Andrew Brunson: Turkey to release USA pastor Brunson

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Prosecutors accused the pastor of being linked both to Kurdish separatists and the US -based Muslim cleric Turkish authorities say orchestrated a failed coup attempt in 2016.

If Mr Brunson is not released tomorrow and is instead convicted on charges of espionage - carrying a sentence of up to 35 years - or if the hearing is rescheduled, economic pressure could be ramped up against Ankara.

The United States has repeatedly called for his release. Saudi officials reject the claims as "baseless".

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. In court on Friday, the prosecution is expected to introduce two new secret witnesses, but Brunson's lawyer Cem Halavurt said their testimonies were not germane to the case. Brunson has denied the accusation - as has Gulen - and Washington has demanded his immediate release.

"We helped everyone, Kurds, Arabs, without showing any discrimination", he said. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because officials had not yet reached a final agreement on the release and it could still fall through.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters that the U.S.is hopeful he will soon go free but said she was unaware of any agreement on his release.

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American pastor Andrew Brunson has been freed from house arrest by a court in the western province of Izmir, Turkey.

The court's decision failed to improve tensions between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies.

NBC's sources said an agreement on Brunson's release was advanced in discussions last month between Turkish and US officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton, during the United Nations General Assembly in NY.

The source cautioned that USA officials are counting on Turkish officials to follow through on their end of the agreement, which appears to now be in place with Brunson due to appear before a Turkish court on Friday. The Turkish government, however, have refused to budge on the matter. He lived with his wife and three children while working as the pastor of the small Izmir Resurrection Church, which had a congregation of about two dozen.

The U.S. chargé d'affaires to Turkey, Jeffrey M. Hovenier, was also in the courtroom.

A Turkish court has ruled for the release of an American pastor at the heart of a diplomatic dispute between Turkey and the United States after a hearing on October 12 during which key witnesses flipped and the prosecution softened.

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