Turkish prosecutor seeks 10-year jail term for U.S. pastor

Turkish prosecutor seeks 10-year jail term for U.S. pastor

President Donald Trump tweeted about his impending release Friday, saying his administration was "working very hard" on his case and adding later, "PASTOR BRUNSON JUST RELEASED".

Turkish President Recep Erdogan, meanwhile, had said Turkey won't extradite anyone to the USA until US extradites Gulen. However, Turkish courts rejected the appeals three times, leaving the U.S. national under house arrest. But the judge said Brunson will not spend anymore time in custody because of time served. He was transferred to house arrest in July because of poor health, but US officials had expected him to be freed at that time. His prolonged imprisonment led the U.S.to impose sanctions on two Turkish ministers and threaten further penalties were he not released.

Brunson's lawyer took the case to Turkey's highest court last week seeking his release from house arrest.

In August, Trump told reporters that Turkey had "not acted as a friend" and "they made up phony charges that he's a spy".

The court sentenced Brunson to a little more than three years in prison, but since the 50-year-old evangelical pastor, a native of North Carolina, has already spent two years in detention, he won't serve more time.

A new, justifiably all caps tweet from the president.

"My thoughts and prayers are with Pastor (Andrew) Brunson, and we hope to have him safely back home soon!"

U.S. evangelical Christian pastor Andrew Brunson is on a plane home to the United States after the Turkish court ruled he should be released, according to lawyer representing his family.

President Donald Trump tweeted - after worldwide press reported the verdict - that he was '[w] orking very hard on Pastor Brunson!'

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The case against Brunson, an evangelical preacher from North Carolina who has lived in Turkey for more than 20 years and was arrested two years ago, had led to USA tariffs against Turkey and drawn condemnation from President Donald Trump. He is one of thousands caught up in a Turkish government crackdown following a failed 2016 coup against the Turkish government.

Shockingly, the court upheld its bogus terrorism conviction of the Christian pastor but is still allowing him to leave Turkey anyway. He denied all the charges.

While Brunson was detained, the Trump administration made sure Turkey knew the USA meant business by imposing tariffs on Turkish imports and slapping financial sanctions on the country, putting a noticeable dent on the Turkish economy.

Turkey showed the first signs of relenting in July when it moved Brunson to house arrest instead of incarceration, but refused to fully release him, until today.

He appeared at the hearing Friday wearing a black suit, white shirt and red tie, while his wife, Norine, watched from the visitors seating area, according to Reuters.

The charge of espionage against him was dropped. He rejects the charges and strongly maintains his innocence.

The fourth hearing against Andrew Brunson began at 10:40 a.m.in a prison complex in the Aliağa district of the coastal city of İzmir, ending at 4:28 p.m. with the court's ruling.

"I love Jesus. I love Turkey", Brunson said, according to the Associated Press. "The fact that he is now on a plane to the United States can only be viewed as a significant victory for Pastor Brunson and his family".

In August, the US imposed sanctions on two Turkish cabinet ministers in direct retaliation for Turkey's continued detention of Brunson, as NPR's Colin Dwyer reports.

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