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The court sentenced Brunson to three years and one month in prison, but it chose to release him, based on his time already served. He and his wife havearrived this Saturday in United States.
A Turkish court ordered the release of the American pastor Andrew Brunson from house arrest on Friday, after 24-month imprisonment, and allowed him to fly home
The court sentenced Brunson to three years and one month in prison, but it chose to release him, based on his time already served, as well as his manner during the proceedings, his lawyer said.
Brunson was arrested over alleged collaboration with terrorist groups such as outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the Gulenist movement, which Turkey blames for the 2016 failed coup attempt.
The pastor has lived in Turkey for more than 20 years, with his wife and three children while working for the small Izmir Resurrection Church, which had a congregation of about two dozen.
In the first part of the hearing, three witnesses of the prosecution, as well as a witness of the defense, testified.
One of the witnesses said she had never heard before that the members of the illegal PKK were treated at a hospital owned by a friend of Brunson and were then sent to Syria to fight.
Another witness confirmed he had never seen the members of which the Turkish authorities label as FETO in a prayer house by Brunson. He said he had heard it only as a rumor.
On the other hand, another witness also backtracked from his claim that a Syrian member of Brunson’s congregation was making bombs for terror attacks.
BRUNSON: “I AM INNOCENT, I LOVE JESUS, I LOVE TURKEY”
Before the verdict, Brunson was able to meet his wife in the courthouse, where they held hands and talked about the possible outcome. “I am an innocent man. I love Jesus. I love Turkey”, said Brunson during the trial.
“We are grateful for the President's commitment and efforts in securing my release. My entire family thanks the President, the administration, and Congress for their unwavering support”, the pastor pointed out, as he prepared to leave Turkey en route to the US.
And added: “This is the day our family has been praying for, I am delighted to be on my way home to the United States”.
Brunson case has raised tensions between Washington and Ankara, who are allies in NATO, with both sides imposing sanctions on the other.
“Our administration has made very clear that we will continue to stand strong until Pastor Andrew Brunson is free and back home in the United States with his family and with his church”, US Vice President Mike Pence declare before the court hearing.
US President, Donald Trump has celebrated in twitter the release of Pastor Brunson.
PASTOR BRUNSON JUST RELEASED. WILL BE HOME SOON!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 12 de octubre de 2018
BRUNSON ARRIVED SAFELY IN UNITED STATES
The pastor and his wife Norine have arrived safely in United States. She has shared a picture of the arrival in their Facebook account.
It is expected that tthe President of United States, Donald Trump, will host the Brunsons in the coming hourse at the White House.
Thousands of evangelicals from around the world have been praying for the situation of Andrew Brunson. They have written letters, collected signatures and organized demonstrations calling for the release of the pastor.