U.S. PASTOR RELEASED AFTER YEARS IN LOCKUP
ALIAGA, TURKEY A Turkish court on Friday convicted an American pastor on terror charges but released him from house arrest and allowed him to leave the country, a move that’s likely to ease tensions between Turkey and the United States.
The court near the western city of Izmir sentenced Andrew Brunson to three years, one month and 15 days in prison for allegedly helping terror groups. But since the evangelical pastor had already spent nearly two years in detention, Turkish law allowed him to remain free with time served.
An earlier charge of espionage was dropped.
Brunson, 50, a native of North Carolina whose detention had sparked a diplomatic dispute between the two NATO allies, had rejected the espionage and terror-related charges and strongly maintained his innocence.
With tears in his eyes, he hugged his wife Norine Lyn as he awaited the decision Friday. Lawyer Ismail Cem Halavurt said Brunson was expected to leave Turkey for the U.S., but it was not clear when.
Washington had repeatedly called for Brunson’s release and in August had slapped sanctions on Turkey.