Pastor Brunson freed, flying to the USA

Perhaps today he will meet President Donald Trump. The judges sentenced the pastor to three years in prison, in reality already discounted during the trial. In his last defense, Brunson said, "I am an innocent man. I love Jesus, I love Turkey ". A recovery of US-Turkey relations is expected.


Izmir (AsiaNews) - US pastor Andrew Brunson, held in Turkey for two years, is expected today in the US after a court ruled his release. President Donald Trump celebrated the news and is waiting to greet him in Washington today.

Issuing its verdict yesterday on charges related to terrorism, Aliaga's court ordered sentenced the pastor to three years, one month and 15 days. But taking into account the time already spent in prison and his good conduct during the trial, he was removed from house arrest and the ban on traveling abroad.

Brunson, 50, has lived in Turkey for more than 20 years, serving the small Presbyterian church of the Resurrection in Izmir. He was arrested in October 2016 on charges of having ties with the PKK, the Kurdish outlaw party, outlawed because terrorist, and with the movement of Feithullah Guelen, responsible - according to Ankara - of the failed coup d'état of 2016. He risked at 30 years in prison.

Brunson has always declared himself innocent. In his last defense he said: "I am an innocent man. I love Jesus, I love Turkey ".

Observers believe that the arrest of Brunson and dozens of Americans is an attempt by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to force the US to hand over Guelen, currently in exile in Pennsylvania.

But US economic pressures - sanctions, tariffs and the threat of much more - have rocked the Turkish economy, causing the Turkish lira to plummet a whopping 40%, sparking a major economic crisis. Perhaps Brunson's release will foster a  resumption of Turkey-US relations

The pastor's liberation was also achieved thanks to pressure from the American Christian conservatives, an important electoral base for President Trump.