Andrew Brunson, the American pastor who was imprisoned and then placed under house arrest in Turkey due to his alleged ties to an outlawed group, was ordered freed on Friday and sentenced to time served -- and is now expected to stop in Germany for a medical exam before returning to the U.S.
The Turkish judge's ruling ended a tense diplomatic standoff between the U.S. and Turkey that began after Brunson’s October 2016 detention on terror and treason charges. Turkey targeted the 50-year-old pastor as part of a massive government crackdown following a failed coup months earlier. Brunson was officially sentenced to three years and one month in prison for the conviction; but, because he had already served two years in detention, he wasn't required to spend any more time behind bars.
“This is the day our family has been praying for – I am delighted to be on my way home to the United States," Brunson said in a statement provided by the American Center for Law and Justice, which had been working to secure his freedom.
Brunson appeared Friday at a prison complex in Izmir for his fourth hearing, telling the courtroom he's "an innocent man."
“I love Jesus. I love Turkey,” Brunson said, according to the Associated Press. Witnesses later said he wept as the verdict was announced.