Following pressure from the Trump administration, the government of Turkey has ordered the release of an evangelical Christian pastor from prison. Pastor Andrew Brunson, an American pastor, had been imprisoned by the NATO ally for alleged “espionage.” Brunson, who had led a Christian congregation in Izmir, will be allowed to return to his home in Turkey, but still under house arrest.
The American Center for Law and Justice announced on Wednesday, "This is a critical first step that we believe will result in the freedom of Pastor Brunson so he can return to the United States and be reunited with his family," said ACLJ chief counsel Jay Sekulow in a press release. "The President has played a critical role in securing the freedom of Pastor Brunson. We have worked closely with the President on this matter and are grateful for his efforts. We look forward to the ultimate release of Pastor Brunson."
Brunson will continue under house arrest while his trial continues, having been released for unspecified "health problems." The 50-year-old Brunson has lived in Turkey for 23 years and served as pastor of Ismir Resurrection Church. He is facing up to 35 years in prison for allegedly "committing crimes on behalf of terror groups without being a member" and for "espionage" – charges. Brunson denies the charges.