Turkey says US pastor 'not freed due to pressure'

Last Updated: Sun, Oct 14, 2018 00:56 hrs

Ankara, Oct 14 (IANS) Turkey's decision to release US pastor Andrew Brunson was not due to "any external pressure," the ruling Justice and Development Party's spokesperson said Saturday.

"It is the result of the processes of the independent Turkish judiciary," Omer Celik told reporters in the southern province of Adana, Xinhua reported.

"Despite of the impositions and threats over the case, none of Turkey's institutions including the presidency took any action on the case due to pressure," Celik was quoted by state-run Anadolu Agency as saying.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly stressed that Friday's release of Brunson was a ruling made by the independent Turkish judiciary.

The 50-year-old pastor, who had lived in Turkey for over two decades, was detained in December 2016 over espionage charges and links to a network led by the U.S.-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen and the Kurdistan Workers' Party.

A court in western province of Izmir on Friday sentenced Brunson to jail for three years and 45 days, but set him free due to time served.

In August, Brunson's continued detention turned a flash point in relations between Ankara and Washington, two NATO allies, prompting the United States to impose sanctions on two Turkish ministers and double tariffs on aluminum and steel imports from Turkey.



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