USA pastor Andrew Brunson released from Turkish detention

NBC News: US Pastor to Be Released After Secret Turkey Deal

Brunson has been accused of aiding terrorist groups as well as participation in a 2016 attempted coup.

Turkish court sentences United States pastor Andrew Craig Brunson three years in prison but rules he won't serve the sentence because of time already served. But the judge said Brunson will not spend anymore time in custody because of time served.

On Friday, Brunson was convicted on terrorism charges and sentenced to three years in prison.

One witness, Levent Kalkan, said that investigators misunderstood his original testimony that had implicated Brunson in harboring coup suspects in 2016.

Since his 2016 arrest, Brunson has stood at the centre of a diplomatic row between Turkey and the U.S., as North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies sparred bitterly over the pastor's imprisonment.

"This is the day our family has been praying for - I am delighted to be on my way home to the United States".

Norine Brunson wife of American pastor Andrew Brunson, departs for her husband's court hearing. "I love Jesus, I love Turkey", according to the Associated Press.

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Despite denying the existence of an agreement, Pence was keen to stress the White House's commitment to Brunson's release - "we will continue to stand strong until pastor Brunson is free and back home in the USA with his family and his church", he added.

Vice President Pence took a particular interest in Brunson's case and has helped mobilize Trump's evangelical political base to the cause.

The White House is not elaborating on any deal, but the president suggested Friday that USA efforts were ongoing and confirmed that Brunson will be coming home. "We praise God for this wonderful turn of events and thank the many people who worked on his behalf, including high-ranking officials within the Trump administration and influential and committed attorneys", Save The Persecuted Christians Director Dede Laugesen said in a statement.

Middle East analyst Mike Kerem said "This is historic in that how many times they have brought this up in high-level communications with the Turkish administration".

"President Trump has had a focus on it, the administration has had a focus on it, and we're very hopeful that we'll see a good outcome before too long", Pompeo told the Jewish Institute for National Security of America. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and others for their intervention.

"There wasn't any evidence whatsoever" against him, Lauren Brunson said, "and as a family we are just glad it's over".

The Post said the deal included lifting USA sanctions, some already imposed and others threatened.

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The administration then imposed sanctions on two senior Turkish officials, and President Trump authorized a doubling of steel and aluminum tariffs.

The source cautioned that USA officials are counting on Turkish officials to follow through on their end of the agreement, which appears to now be in place with Brunson due to appear before a Turkish court on Friday.

The pastor was detained two years ago and has been under house arrest in the city of Izmir since July. He had faced charges that could have resulted in 35 years in prison.

USA broadcaster NBC said on Thursday that Washington had done a secret deal with Ankara to secure Brunson's release. His lawyer said he was expected to return to the United States.

Brunson, 50, had rejected the espionage and terror-related charges and strongly maintained his innocence.

At the U.N. General Assembly last month, Trump and Erdogan had a brief, informal meeting.

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