U.S. PAS­TOR RE­LEASED AF­TER YEARS IN LOCKUP

Vancouver Sun - - WORLD -

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.

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