Andrew Brunson freed
by Onize Ohikere
Posted 10/12/18, 10:30 am
A Turkish court on Friday released U.S. Pastor Andrew Brunson with credit for time served on charges of terrorism and espionage. Brunson, originally from Black Mountain, N.C., lived in Turkey for 23 years and pastored Izmir Resurrection Church. He faced a 35-year sentence on phony charges until witnesses against him reversed their testimony at a dramatic hearing Friday. A judge sentenced Brunson to three years and one month in prison but allowed him to go free since he already spent almost two years in detention.
Turkish authorities arrested Brunson in December 2016 following a failed coup attempt in the country. Witnesses initially claimed his congregation made bombs for terror attacks and that members of terror groups hid in his church. The United States levied economic sanctions against Turkey in July over Brunson’s captivity, and Turkish authorities then released him from prison and placed him under house arrest. U.S. President Donald Trump welcomed the news of Brunson’s full release Friday morning, tweeting, “My thoughts and prayers are with Pastor Brunson, and we hope to have him safely back home soon!” His attorney said Brunson plans to return to the United States.
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Onize is a reporter for WORLD Digital based in Abuja, Nigeria.