Before the judge's ruling, Brunson told the court: 'I am an innocent man. I love Jesus, I love Turkey'
News Service12 OCTOBER 2018, 04:19Reuters
A Turkish court ruled on Friday to release U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson from house arrest, sentencing him to three years in jail but saying he will not spend any more time in custody because of time already served.
The court's decision to lift judicial controls meant that evangelical pastor Brunson, at the heart of a diplomatic spat between the two countries, could leave Turkey and return to the United States.
The court passed a 3 years and 1-1/2 month sentence on Brunson.
Asked whether Brunson would go to the United States, his lawyer Ismail Cem Halavurt said: "He will probably leave."
Witnesses said Brunson wept as the decision was announced. Before the judge's ruling, the pastor told the court: "I am an innocent man. I love Jesus, I love Turkey."
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 U.S. tariffs against Turkey and drawn condemnation from President Donald Trump.
Brunson was charged with links to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), which Turkey says is responsible for the defeated July 15 coup attempt.
Brunson appeared in the courtroom in the western coastal town of Aliaga wearing a black suit, white shirt and red tie. His wife Norine looked on from the visitors' seating area as he listened to testimony from defense and prosecution witnesses.