Turkish court rules to release Andrew Brunson

North Carolina Pastor Andrew Brunson Reportedly Set to be Released by Turkish Government

But since the evangelical pastor had already spent almost two years in detention, Turkish law allowed him to remain free with time served.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in late September that Brunson "could be released this month" and indicated again on Wednesday that he could be released soon.

As the evangelical missionary prepared to leave Turkey this evening, his parents Ron and Pam Brunson told Sky News of their relief. Prior to the ruling, he said, "I am an innocent man". Making a statement in ideal Turkish, the Evangelical Presbyterian minister, who moved to Turkey in 1993, said, "I'm an innocent man - I love Jesus, and I love this country". Turkey responded with its own counter-measures.

"We thank God for answered prayers and commend the efforts of @SecPompeo & @StateDept in supporting Pastor Brunson and his family during this hard time", Pence wrote on Twitter.

He was transferred to house arrest in July because of poor health, but US officials had expected him to be freed at that time.

Khashoggi contributed columns to the Post, including some critical of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who the the current USA administration has courted as an ally.

His case had created a deep rift in U.S.

In July, Trump had threatened to hit Turkey with "large sanctions" if it failed to release Brunson. But at the hearing, Yilmaz Demircan, the alleged source of this information, denied ever saying so.

He was also accused of having ties to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a Kurdish militant group inside Turkey.

The U.S. imposed sanctions on Turkey in August due to the dispute over Brunson. The new witnesses did not confirm Kalkan's accusations. "Levent told me, 'These are all terrorists - they won't look you in the eye'".

"We are patriotic people, no matter what our faith is", he said.

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"Whatever Erdogan says, there is a response", he said.

Brunson has been in Turkish custody since October 2016 when he was arrested on charges that he spied on the government and aided in a military coup attempt. His lawyer argues they lack relevance as their testimony will focus on incidents after Brunson's arrest.

Mr Brunson has lived in Turkey with his wife and three children for more than 20 years.

"The White House thought they had a deal after President Trump spoke with Turkey's president".

U.S. President Donald Trump says he hopes to have U.S. evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson back in the United States soon.

After Brunson's release was announced, President Donald Trump tweeted in all capital letters, "PASTOR BRUNSON JUST RELEASED".

An American pastor who has been held in prison by the Turkish government for two years should be on his way home to the U.S.by the end of the day.

"We're grateful to the president, members of Congress and diplomatic leaders who continued to put pressure on Turkey to secure the freedom of Pastor Brunson", lawyer Jay Sekulow, who represents Brunson's family, said in a statement received by the Reuters news agency.

Russell Moore, head of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, also tweeted out his thanks.

Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin said at the time that the United States was prepared to add more sanctions if Brunson wasn't released.

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