The trial of US pastor Andrew Brunson at Aliaga courthouse in Izmir took place under tight security. Photo: Bulent Kilic/AFP
IZMIR, Turkey – A Turkish court convicted US pastor Andrew Brunson on terror-related charges, sentencing him with time served.
Brunson was sentenced to three years, one month, and 15 days in jail, but was allowed to walk free taking into account time served and good conduct.
With his house arrest lifted and flight ban removed, Brunson will likely leave Turkey, his lawyer told reporters outside the courthouse.
Turkey’s arrest of Brunson caused a diplomatic row with the United States that led to a crash in Turkey’s currency.
While Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insisted he would not interfere with the judicial process, US President Donald Trump tweeted that he was “working very hard” on the case as news broke that Brunson would be released.
Erdogan's office and the opposition HDP both said the court's decision proves a point about the judiciary's independence, though they offer opposing views on what that point is.
Brunson's case has shown that "Turkey is a democratic state of justice and that the judiciary is neutral and independent," said Fahrettin Altun, director of communications for the presidency.
"We want to remind US President Donald Trump once again that Turkey is a democratic country and Turkish courts are independent," he said.
He also denied that the government is open to influence.
"Like Turkish courts, the Turkish government does not receive instructions from any organ, authority, or person," he said.
HDP spokesperson Saruhan Oluc told reporters that the verdict leaves no doubt that Erdogan controls the judiciary.
"What happened during the Brunson case shows that the judiciary is used as a means of bargaining and pressure in Turkey and works in line with the objectives of the [presidential] palace," he said.
Background: US pastor back on trial in Turkey as calls grow for release
Updated at 6:54 pm