United States pastor held in Turkey may be released under secret deal

American pastor whose arrest for treason enraged Trump is due in court and could be released TODAY

In the minutes following the judge's court decision, Trump took to Twitter to declare that he is "working very hard on Pastor Brunson".

The court sentenced Brunson to three years and one month in prison, but chose to release him based on his time already served. His lawyer said the electronic ankle bracelet monitoring his house arrest was removed.

Brunson is scheduled to appear in court for a hearing on Friday.

Pastor Richard Harris, who serves at the church near Brunson's parents' home in North Carolina, had traveled to Turkey to be in court on Friday, Smith said.

Another witness, who was unidentified, said he had never seen the members of which the Turkish authorities label as FETÖ in a prayer house by Brunson. 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".

Prosecutors had accused Brunson of acting on behalf of terror groups, specifically linking him to outlawed Kurdish militants and a network led by USA -based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen. Turkey has unsuccessfully pressed the U.S.to extradite Gulen, who denies involvement in the coup attempt.

"I am an innocent man".

"Today's court ruling on Andrew Brunson reaffirmed that Turkey is a democratic country with the rule of law, and established the independence and impartiality of the Turkish judiciary", Fahrettin Altun said in a statement. Those expectations were raised after witnesses told the court earlier on Friday that previous testimonies attributed to them were inaccurate.

But at the hearing, a witness told the court Kalkan was the source of those accusations.

Witnesses said Brunson wept as the decision was announced.

Brunson was arrested in Turkey in October 2016 and was accused of having connections to Kurdish militants and plotting a coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Brunson denied the charges against him, which included conspiring to help topple Erdogan and fanning ethnic tension.

American pastor Andrew Brunson has begun his journey home after being freed from house arrest in a case that badly strained ties between the United States and Turkey.

She quotes White as saying the group is "all just shouting 'Hallelujah!' and doing the happy dance".

The ACLJ said Brunson was targeted because of his Christian faith. The ensuing U-S sanctions caused the Turkish currency to plunge against the dollar.

Among those thorny issues that remain are Turkey's purchase of a Russian missile system, USA support for Kurdish groups in Syria, and Erdogan's sweeping crackdown on political opposition. Turkey wanted to exchange Brunson for the Muslim cleric it accused of orchestrating the failed coup, Fetullah Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania.

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.

Turkish officials had sought meetings with the U.S.to negotiate a resolution to the Brunson case and other issues, but in August National Security Adviser John Bolton declared no such talks would proceed until Brunson was let go. Saudi officials reject the claim as "baseless".



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