Turkey convicts US pastor but lets him leave

13 October, 2018, 01:46 | Author: Orlando Hughes
  • North Carolina Pastor Andrew Brunson Reportedly Set to be Released by Turkish Government

"The fact that he is now on a plane to the United States can only be viewed as a significant victory for Pastor Brunson and his family", he said.

Weeks before Brunson's release, a United States diplomatic source told MEE that relations can only be improved if Turkey gives up its decision to buy the S-400s.

Brunson appeared Friday at a prison complex in Izmir for his fourth hearing, telling the courtroom he's "an innocent man".

Donald Trump says hopes to have freed US pastor "back home soon" US President Donald Trump said on Friday that he hoped for the swift return to the United States of an American pastor freed by Turkey after two years in detention.

Brunson had been accused of links to Kurdish militants and supporters of Fethullah Gulen, the cleric blamed by Turkey for a coup attempt in 2016.

Despite pressure from the Trump administration, Mr Erdogan has insisted that he has no sway over the judiciary and the courts will decide Mr Brunson's fate.

"We are overjoyed that God has answered the prayers of so many people around the world", she said. Brunson has denied the charges.

Furious over Turkey's refusal to let him go, President Donald Trump in August doubled metal tariffs on Turkey and slapped sanctions on two senior Turkish officials involved in Brunson's detention. In court on Friday, the prosecution is expected to introduce two new secret witnesses, but Brunson's lawyer Cem Halavurt said their testimonies were not germane to the case.

Other state lawmakers in Washington called on the U.S.to impose sanctions on Turkey in retaliation for Brunson's treatment.

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NBC cited sources as saying that under an agreement US officials reached recently with Turkey, Brunson would be released after certain charges against him were dropped at his next court hearing.

USA broadcaster NBC said Turkey and the United States had reached a secret deal for Brunson to be released Friday, with some charges against him dropped, in exchange for the U.S. easing "economic pressure" that included sanctions that have hammered the lira.

Brunson, 50, who has lived in Turkey for more than two decades, rejects the charges and strongly maintains his innocence.

Turkish judicial authorities have repeatedly denied requests for the release of Brunson, who was moved from prison to house arrest in the city of Izmir in July. The pastor had earlier this year been transferred from prison to house arrest.

Pamela Brunson, 75, the mother of the pastor, was at her home in Black Mountain, a town in North Carolina near Asheville, when she learned of the news from a Reuters reporter calling about the court's decision. But the judge said Brunson will not spend anymore time in custody because of time served.

His trial came as Turkey and the United States are embroiled in another major diplomatic incident regarding a Saudi writer - USA resident Jamal Khashoggi - who disappeared at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week.

Brunson's lawyer took the case to Turkey's highest court last week seeking his release.

Turkey has also been publicly critical of criminal prosecutions in the US involving state-run Halkbank official Mehmet Hakan Atilla, as well as Reza Zarrab, a Turkish-Iranian gold trader.

The Turkish lira jumped Thursday after reports its government could release a detained American within days, a step toward resolving tensions between Washington and Ankara that have helped roil the currency in recent months.

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