(Reuters) - The parents of a U.S. pastor facing terrorism charges in Turkey rejoiced on Friday on learning that a court ordered their son to be released.
U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson reacts as he arrives at his home after being released from the prison in Izmir, Turkey July 25, 2018. Demiroren News Agency, DHA via REUTERS
A Turkish court on Friday sentenced Andrew Brunson, who had been charged with links to Kurdish militants and supporters of a U.S.-based Muslim cleric, to more than three years in prison but said he would not serve any further time because he had already been detained since October 2016.
Pamela Brunson, the mother of the pastor, was at her home in Black Mountain, a town in North Carolina near Asheville, when she learned of the news from a Reuters reporter calling about the court’s decision.
“They have?” she said, her voice quavering. “Well we were at an all-night prayer meeting during the trial and we got home and we fell asleep. We were up all night. Praise God! I’m so excited! Oh that’s wonderful! Thank you so much for letting us know. We’re so happy.”
She brought her husband, Ron, near the phone as the reporter read aloud some of a published Reuters report about the proceedings in Turkey.
“We are overjoyed that God has answered the prayers of so many people around the world,” she said.
In Turkey, 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.”
Brunson has lived in Turkey for more than 20 years. His arrest two years ago led to U.S. tariffs against Turkey and drew condemnation from President Donald Trump.
Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Alistair Bell