A Turkish Court has released an imprisoned pastor after much pressure from the U.S. Government.
Andrew Brunson, the American pastor who was imprisoned and then placed under house arrest in Turkey due to his alleged ties to an outlawed group, was ordered freed on Friday and sentenced to time served, a Turkish judge ruled.
The decision ended a tense diplomatic standoff between the U.S. and Turkey that began after Brunson’s October 2016 arrest on terror and treason charges. The 50-year-old pastor was detained by Turkey as part of a massive government crackdown following a failed coup months earlier. Brunson was officially sentenced to three years and one month in prison for the conviction; but, because he had already served two years in detention, he wasn't required to spend any more time behind bars.
Brunson appeared Friday at a prison complex in Izmir for his fourth hearing, telling the courtroom he's "an innocent man."
“I love Jesus. I love Turkey,” Brunson said, according to the Associated Press. Witnesses later said he wept as the verdict was announced.
His lawyer, Ismail Cem Halavurt, said Brunson was expected to leave Turkey for the United States later today.