ALIAGA, Turkey: A Turkish court ruled on Friday to release the US evangelical Christian pastor at the centre of a bitter diplomatic row between Ankara and Washington, a move that could be the first step towards mending ties between the Nato allies.
The court passed a 3 years and 1-1/2 month sentence on 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. Witnesses said Brunson wept as the decision was announced.
Before the judge’s ruling, the pastor told the court: "I am an innocent man. I love Jesus, I love Turkey." The case against Brunson, an evangelical preacher from North Carolina who has lived in Turkey for more than 20 years and was arrested two years ago, had led to US tariffs against Turkey and drawn condemnation from President Donald Trump.