Turkish court ends US pastor's house arrest, allowing him to leave country

Emily Nicolle
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US pastor Andrew Brunson was arrested by Turkish authorities in 2016 (Source: Getty)

A Turkish court has allowed US pastor Andrew Brunson to be freed from house arrest and leave the country, putting an end to two-year long case which saw the US impose heavy sanctions on Turkey.

Brunson was freed from house arrest in Izmir, Turkey this afternoon, and is now able to leave the country immediately.

A Turkish prosecutor had called for Brunson to be jailed for 10 years, in addition to putting an end to his house arrest. He was ultimately sentenced to three years imprisonment, but will not serve any additional time after having spent the last two years under judicial restrictions.

Brunson, who had lived in Turkey for more than 20 years as the pastor of a small Izmir church, was arrested two years ago on charges of assisting Kurdish militants and supporters of controversial cleric Fethullah Gulen in a failed coup attempt.

Read more: Erdogan claims US pastor has 'dark links' to terrorists

His imprisonment led to wide-ranging US tariffs against Turkey and outspoken condemnation from President Donald Trump, who today said he had been "working very hard" to secure Brunson's release.

Earlier today, witnesses told the court that testimonies they had given relating to Brunson's prosectuion were inaccurate.

“I do not understand how this is related to me,” Brunson said after the judge questioned one of a series of witnesses, according to Reuters. He said the judge was asking the witness about incidents Brunson was not involved in.

The Turkish lira firmed up in response to the reports, rising to 5.86 against the dollar.

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