Turkish court rules that U.S. pastor move from jail to house arrest

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Vice President Mike Pence is threatening NATO ally Turkey with economic sanctions over a detained North Carolina pastor held on terror and espionage charges.

"If Turkey does not take immediate action to free this innocent man of faith and send him home to America, the United States will impose significant sanctions on Turkey until Pastor Andrew Brunson is free", Pence said.

Pence's initial announcement of possible sanctions came at the close of a three-day conference on religious freedom.

"You have a pastor as well, give him to us", Erdogan said last September, in response to Washington's calls for Brunson to be released. One of Brunson's attorneys is Jay Sekulow, who also represents Mr. Trump in the Russian Federation investigation.

Turkish court rules that US pastor move from jail to house arrest
American pastor detained in Turkey moved to house arrest

A total disgrace that Turkey will not release a respected U.S. Pastor, Andrew Brunson, from prison.

An American pastor held in a Turkish prison for almost two years will be allowed to remain under house arrest as his trial on terror and espionage charges continues.

The case has strained ties between North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies Turkey and the United States. The Senate has also considered bipartisan legislation to restrict loans to Turkey until it releases over a dozen US citizens it now has in captivity, including Brunson.

Brunson was arrested in December 2016 and later indicted on charges of having links with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militant group and movement of the US-based opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of having masterminded the July 2016 coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

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Erdoğan has previously linked his fate to that of Gülen, whose extradition from the United States has been a long-held demand of Turkish authorities.

Although it is unclear when Brunson will be transferred from prison, his lawyer said the pastor's family was "elated" by the news he would be moved to house arrest. He was detained by Turkish forces in the aftermath of the failed coup, The indictment against him contends he worked to convert Kurds to Christianity to sow discord in Turkey.

USA and Turkish officials had been working on a deal that would lead to Brunson's release, and Washington had expected him to be freed at his trial last week, a source in the United States familiar with developments told Reuters on Wednesday.

The Trump administration has repeatedly pressed the Turkish government to release Brunson, 50, a longtime resident of Turkey who was swept up in a campaign of mass arrests that followed a coup attempt against Erdogan in the summer of 2016.

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His next hearing is due to be on October 12.

"I believe in and support Turkey's territorial integrity", he told the court.

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