Turkish court releases American pastor in surprise ruling

The American pastor Andrew Brunson was free to leave Turkey after a court in Izmir sentenced him on Friday to three years and one month in prison for “aiding a terrorist organization” and espionage – then ruled his release. The decision came after several key witnesses retracted their evidence against the pastor and the prosecution softened its final case, which would have carried 35 years in prison. Brunson spent two years in detention, accused of abetting the failed 2016 coup against President Tayyip Erdogan. Vice President Mike Pence led an intense pressure for his release, including the imposition of economic sanctions against the Turkish government.

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