American pastor was imprisoned on false charges of terrorism.
American pastor Andrew Brunson has been released after being detained for two years in Turkey.
At a hearing this morning, a Turkish court freed him from judicial control, which lifts his house arrest and travel ban.
Despite a guilty verdict sentencing him to 3 years, 1 month, and 15 days in prison, Brunson may return home to the United States as soon as today due to good behavior and time already served.
NBC News broke the news yesterday of the expected deal between Turkey and the United States over Brunson, a North Carolina pastor who had worked in Izmir for decades and was arrested on terrorism and espionage charges in the aftermath of a failed coup in 2016.
US officials and religious freedom advocates considered the charges against Brunson to be erroneous, and multiple witnesses retracted their testimonies against him during today’s hearing.
Trump administration officials were optimistic but cautious that Turkey would follow through on the deal, reported The Washington Post. The deal would likely lift recent US sanctions in exchange for Brunson’s release by being sentenced today to time already served.
Officials expect Brunson to “be handed back his passport and put on a plane to the US,” reported The Wall Street Journal.
World Watch Monitor was with Brunson and his family and lawyers in Turkey at 8 p.m. local time (1 p.m. eastern time in the US). He was expected to leave for the airport at about 9 p.m. local time/2 p.m. Eastern.
Facing up to 35 years in prison if convicted, Brunson flatly denied all charges. He had declared in court, “I am an innocent man on all these charges. I reject them. I know why I am here. I am here to suffer in Jesus’ name.”
After being held in a number of different …