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BREAKING: Christian pastor Andrew Brunson released and allowed to leave Turkey

Pastor Andrew Brunson, 50, has been in some form of detention, prison or house arrest since October 2016, accused of links to a failed coup in the country which attempted to overthrow the government. 

The North Carolina church leader was among hundreds of others; academics, civil servants and journalist, arrested around the same time. 

It was decided on Friday that he should be convicted of terror charges but that his imprisonment will be over. 

On Friday, the court near the western city of Izmir sentenced Andrew Brunson to three years and one month in prison for the conviction, but since the evangelical pastor has already spent two years in detention he will not serve more time.

Brunson had rejected the espionage and terror-related charges and strongly maintained his innocence.

According to CNN, he said: "I am an innocent man. I love Jesus. I love Turkey". 

Lawyer Ismail Cem Halavurt said Brunson is expected to leave Turkey for the United States.

The US President tweeted his response:

As has evangelist Franklin Graham:

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