American pastor in Turkey moved from prison to house arrest

American pastor in Turkey moved from prison to house arrest
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An American pastor, whose imprisonment has contributed to heightened tensions between the U.S. and Turkey, was released from a Turkish prison on Wednesday and placed under house arrest.

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoPompeo on CIA recruitment: We can't risk national security to appease 'liberal, woke agenda' DNC gathers opposition research on over 20 potential GOP presidential candidates Dozens of scientists call for deeper investigation into origins of COVID-19, including the lab theory MORE called the decision to let pastor Andrew Brunson out of prison "long overdue," but cautioned that it is "not enough." Brunson continues to face charges of espionage and terror, which he has vehemently denied.

"We have seen no credible evidence against Mr. Brunson, and call on Turkish authorities to resolve his case immediately in a transparent and fair manner," Pompeo tweeted.


The Associated Press, citing Turkey's official news agency, reported that Brunson was allowed to return home because of unspecified health problems.

Brunson has worked in Turkey for 23 years as the pastor of the Resurrection Church. He was detained more than a year ago for an alleged connection to a failed coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2016.

Brunson is accused of aiding the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which opposes Erdoğan and the ruling party, and of having a connection to Fethullah Gülen, an Islamic cleric who Turkey claims orchestrated the coup attempt. 

President TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger, Gaetz get in back-and-forth on Twitter over Cheney vote READ: Liz Cheney's speech on the House floor Cheney in defiant floor speech: Trump on 'crusade to undermine our democracy' MORE, Vice President Pence and lawmakers have pressed Turkey to release Brunson. Trump appealed to Erdoğan directly in a tweet earlier this month, calling Brunson's imprisonment "a total disgrace."

"[Erdoğan] should do something to free this wonderful Christian husband & father. He has done nothing wrong, and his family needs him!" Trump tweeted.

The final version of Congress's fiscal 2019 defense bill included a provision that calls on Turkey “to release wrongfully detained U.S. citizens including Andrew Brunson and Serkan Golge."

The bill also pauses sales of F-35 joint strike fighters to Turkey until there is a new assessment on U.S.–Turkey relations, going against the wishes of Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisBiden's is not a leaky ship of state — not yet Rejoining the Iran nuclear deal would save lives of US troops, diplomats The soft but unmatched power of US foreign exchange programs MORE.

In addition to the divide over Brunson, U.S. and Turkey have not seen eye-to-eye on military strategy in Syria. The U.S. has backed Kurdish forces in the region, while Turkey views the Kurds as a terrorist group.