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The pastor was imprisoned for almost two years before being placed under house arrest on July 25 for health reasons.

The pastor, who is originally from Black Mountain, North Carolina, was imprisoned for almost two years after being detained in October 2016.

It was decided on Friday that he should be convicted of terror charges but that his imprisonment will be over.

North Carolina pastor Andrew Brunson, who has been held on terror charges in Turkey for more than two years, will be allowed to leave the country after being convicted, according to multiple reports.

The fourth hearing against Andrew Brunson began at 10:40 a.m.in a prison complex in the Aliağa district of the coastal city of İzmir, ending at 4:28 p.m. with the court's ruling.

US Department of State spokeswoman Heather Nauert said, "I can't imagine that we would go down that road", in response.

"A lot of factors played into this", Tillis said, adding the United States was trying to "get back to a point of a positive relationship" with Turkey. He said the judge was asking the witness about incidents he was not involved in.

Andrew Craig Brunson is escorted by Turkish plain clothes police officers, July 25, 2018, in Izmir, Turkey.

Andrew Brunson had the American government behind him. His wife Norine looked on from the visitors' seating area as he listened to testimony from defense and prosecution witnesses. His lawyer said the electronic ankle bracelet for monitoring was removed.




On Friday, he celebrated the pastor's release on Twitter.

Turkey had been close to releasing Brunson before amid detention for charges of aiding terrorist groups.

Brunson's release ends a sore diplomatic saga between Turkey and the U.S. Both President Trump and Vice President Pence have been outspoken in their calls for Turkey to release the pastor.

Brunson, whose possible release was first reported by NBC, has been held since 2016 and his imprisonment led to a rapid decline in relations between Turkey and the U.S. after President Donald Trump took up his case, and the administration elevated religious freedom as a cause.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had resisted USA demands for Brunson's release, insisting that the courts are independent. Later, after Brunson was airborne, Trump told reporters the pastor had "suffered greatly" but was in "very good shape", and that he would meet with him at the Oval Office on Saturday.

"We helped everyone, Kurds, Arabs, without showing any discrimination", Brunson said, according to the AP.

Brunson, 50, who has lived in Turkey for more than two decades, rejects the charges and strongly maintains his innocence. The case had become a a cause célèbre among Christian evangelicals and a vocal priority for U.S. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence-as well as a source of friction between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies.

Altun insisted that Turkish courts were independent from government and impartial: "We would like to remind him once again that Turkey is a democratic country with the rule of law, and that Turkish courts are independent".

He is one of thousands caught up in the widespread government crackdown that followed a failed coup against the Turkish government in July 2016.


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