Published: Sat, October 13, 2018
Global Media | By Derrick Guzman

Key events in United States pastor Brunson case

Key events in United States pastor Brunson case

"I thank God for Pastor Brunson's release and look forward to his return to the United States", said Dr.

The court passed a three years and 1-1/2 month sentence on Mr Brunson, who had been charged with terrorism offences, but said he would not serve any further time because he had already been detained since October 2016.

"I love Jesus. I love Turkey", an emotional Brunson, who had maintained he was innocent of all charges, told the court during Friday's hearing.

US Department of State spokeswoman Heather Nauert said, "I can't imagine that we would go down that road", in response.

No deal was struck between Washington and Ankara for releasing pastor Andrew Brunson from Turkish prison, US President Donald Trump said.

The Turkish government arrested Brunson in October of 2016, claiming he was aiding two groups it considers terrorists - the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the Hizmet movement led by USA -based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen.

Erdogan had said he wouldn't hand Brunson back to the U.S., but analysts at the Eurasia Group note that the Turkish President has recently shifted position, saying the decision wasn't his to make but would be made by the independent Turkish judiciary.

Previously arrested for links with FETO, Brunson is brought to the courthouse and arrested again on charges of espionage and support for the coup.

"We're grateful to the president, members of Congress and diplomatic leaders who continued to put pressure on Turkey to secure the freedom of Pastor Brunson", lawyer Jay Sekulow, who represents Brunson's family, said in a statement received by the Reuters news agency.

Brunson is scheduled to appear in court for a hearing on Friday.

The new hearing also came as Turkey braces for potential fines from USA authorities over Iran sanctions busting by Turkish lender Halkbank, which has already seen the jailing of its deputy director general in the United States.

The United States has repeatedly called for his release. Brunson's case has been a source of tension between the two countries and triggered US sanctions and tariffs to be imposed on Turkey. However, the judge ruled that Brunson's sentence could be released to two years time served for good behavior.

Brunson's release "could reset Trump and Erdogan's relationship", Soner Cagaptay of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy said.

His trial came as Turkey and the United States are embroiled in another major diplomatic incident regarding a Saudi writer - U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi - who disappeared at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week.

The US imposes sanctions on Suleyman Soylu, Turkey's interior minister, and Abdulhamit Gul, the justice minister.

In August, a Turkish court denied an appeal from Brunson to be released from house arrest while his trial was pending.

But in recent weeks, Brunson's release became the subject of talks "at the highest level" so that the U.S. and Turkey could move on to dealing with over issues facing the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies, a United States diplomat told Middle East Eye.

American Pastor Andrew Brunson has just been released from wrongful detainment in Turkey.

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