US Pastor Andrew Craig Brunson, who had been under house arrest on charges of "committing crimes in the name of a terrorist organization as a non-member" and "espionage" since July 25, 2018, had his fourth hearing at the İzmir 2nd Heavy Penal Court today (October 12).
The court board ruled that Brunson shall be sentenced to 3 years, 1 month and 15 days in prison and lifted the house arrest and international travel ban, which were previously issued for Brunson. Brunson has been released considering the time that he spent in prison.
Witnesses changed their previous statements
Brunson was taken from his house in the district of Alsancak to Aliağa Prison Campus for his hearing, which was also attended by his wife Norine Brunson and the charge d'affaires of the US Embassy in Ankara, Jeffrey M. Hovenier.
At the hearing, which started at 10.35 a.m., the witness statements were heard. The witnesses, who previously gave evidence against Brunson, changed their statements at the hearing today.
The Prosecutor's Office presented its opinion as to the accusations and stated that it had no request for the extension of the investigation. In its opinion, the Prosecutor's Office demanded that the judicial control practices (house arrest and international travel ban) previously imposed on Brunson be lifted and the pastor be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison on charge of "being a member of a terrorist organization."
In his statement, Pastor Brunson demanded his acquittal and said, "I love Turkey very much; I am innocent".
Announcing its verdict, the court board ruled that US Pastor Andrew Craig Brunson shall be sentenced to 3 years, 1 month and 15 days in prison and the house arrest and international travel ban, which were previously issued for him, be lifted. Pastor Brunson has been released from house arrest considering the time that he previously spent in prison.
US Pastor Andrew Craig Brunson faced up to 15 years in prison on charge of "committing crimes in the name of a terrorist organization as a non-member" and up to 20 years in prison on charge of "espionage".
Pastor Brunson was arrested in December 2016 and was placed under house arrest on July 25, 2018.
All objections to Brunson's arrest which had been submitted by his attorney İsmail Cem Halavurt were rejected.
Halavurt applied to the Constitutional Court on October 3, 2018 and demanded that Brunson be released from house arrest and his international travel ban be lifted. (TP/SD)
* Photograph: Mahmut Serdar Alakuş - İzmir / Anadolu Agency
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