American pastor Andrew Brunson freed from Turkey
The immediate release of American Pastor Andrew Brunson was ordered in court in Izmir, Turkey on Friday 12 October.
The court sentenced Mr Brunson to three years imprisonment but freed him because of the time he had already spent in detention. He returned to the US the following day.
The church leader has lived in Turkey for 23 years and was under house arrest since August when he was released from prison to await the hearing.
The 50-year-old was arrested in 2016, under charges of “espionage” and “committing crimes on behalf of terror groups”. The false accusations were reportedly made by a Turkish convert from Islam who had at one time been a strong Christian but later fell away.
It was claimed he had links to both the secular Kurdish nationalist PKK organisation and the Islamist movement of Fethullah Gulen, the political rival of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan exiled in the U.S.
Mr Brunson has always insisted that he was innocent, and argued that he was being punished for his Christian faith. Significant U.S. diplomatic pressure calling for his release has been ongoing.