15:02 GMT +312 December 2018
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    Andrew Craig Brunson, an evangelical pastor from Black Mountain, North Carolina, arrives at his house in Izmir, Turkey.

    Turkish Court Frees US Pastor Brunson After Two-Year Detention

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    The court case of American evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson, who ran Resurrection Church in Turkey for two decades, is over. The pastor has been accused of supporting terrorist groups during a 2016 coup attempt.

    A Turkish court sentenced Brunson to 3 years in prison, stating, however, that he should be immediately released. Commenting on the decision, the court announced that the missionary had already served his time since the arrest in 2016. According to AFP, the court also ruled in favor of lifting his house arrest and the travel ban.

    Following the trial, US President Donald Trump expressed his satisfaction with the decision on his Twitter.

    Shortly after the US national was released, CNN Türk broadcaster reported that he arrived at his house in the Turkish city of Izmir. Later, Brunson announced that he would travel to the US soon.

    "This is the day our family has been praying for… I am delighted to be on my way home to the United States," he said in a statement.

    Later in the evening, a Reuters cameraman said that Brunson left his home in Turkey's western Izmir province.

    Earlier in the day, the prosecutor announced in the final statement that the US pastor should be sentenced to 10 years in prison, adding, however, that the judicial controls on the US pastor should be lifted. According to the Brunson's lawyer Ismail Cem Halavurt, the decision to lift the controls would let his client leave Turkey immediately.

    Previously, Brunson’s lawyer stated that the pastor’s house arrest had exceeded a reasonable duration and that there was no legal justification to limit Brunson's freedom. However, Turkish courts rejected the appeals three times, leaving the US national under house arrest.

    READ MORE: Turkey Agrees to Free US Pastor in Exchange for Economic Benefits — Reports

    The detention of the American pastor has become one of the major reasons for the deterioration of relations between Ankara and Washington, leading to the imposition of tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum, as well as a financial crisis in the country due to a drop of the Turkish lira.

    Related:

    Brunson's Attorney Appeals to Top Turkish Court for Pastor's Release - Reports
    Erdogan: US Using Pastor Brunson Issue as Pretext to Impose Sanctions
    Turkish Police Boost Security Around US Pastor Brunson's House - Reports
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    sentence, court, Andrew Brunson, Turkey, United States
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