ALIAGA, Turkey (AP) — The Latest on trial of American pastor Andrew Brunson, who is accused of espionage and terror related charges(all times local):
A Turkish court has convicted an American pastor at the center of a Turkish-American diplomatic dispute of terror charges, but has released him from house arrest and allowed him to leave Turkey.
The court near the western city of Izmir on Friday sentenced Andrew Brunson to 3 years and 1 month in prison for the conviction, but since the evangelical pastor has already spent two years in detention he won’t serve more time.
Brunson, 50, had rejected the espionage and terror-related charges and strongly maintained his innocence.
Lawyer Ismail Cem Halavurt said Brunson was expected to leave Turkey for the United States
A Turkish prosecutor has requested that an American pastor at the center of a diplomatic dispute between Turkey and the United States be released from house arrest pending the outcome of his trial.
In the fourth hearing in the case against Andrew Brunson, the prosecutor however also recommended that he be convicted on terror-related charges.
A panel of judges is expected to reach an interim ruling later Friday.
Brunson, 50, is accused of terror-related charges and espionage. He rejects the charges and strongly maintains his innocence.
The pastor told the court he is “an innocent man. I love Jesus, I love Turkey.”
The United States has repeatedly called for his release.
The trial of an American pastor at the heart of a diplomatic dispute between Turkey and the United States resumed Friday in Turkey, with observers waiting to see if authorities will release him amid threats of further U.S. sanctions.
The fourth hearing of the case against Andrew Brunson began in a prison complex near the western city of Izmir before noon, hours after he arrived in a secured convoy before daybreak.
The evangelical pastor is accused of terror-related charges and espionage, facing up to 35 years in jail if convicted.
Brunson, 50, who has lived in Turkey for more than two decades, rejects the charges and strongly maintains his innocence. He is one of thousands caught up in a wide-scale government crackdown that followed a failed coup against the Turkish government in July 2016.