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"My thoughts and prayers are with Pastor Brunson, and we hope to have him safely back home soon!" he wrote in an earlier post.

Brunson has been under arrest since December 2016 and under house arrest since July.

Brunson's continued detention - and Erdogan's refusal to release him despite intense pressure from the White House - was a significant factor in a precipitous decline in U.S. -Turkey relations in recent months.

United States president Donald Trump said in a tweet on the heels of the news regarding the pastor release, that his thoughts and prayers are with pastor Brunson, hoping "to have him safely back home soon!"

"This has been a long road of persecution for Pastor Andrew Brunson", says Laugesen.

The High Criminal Court no 2 in Izmir rules Brunson's detention would be turned into house arrest due to "health problems". Making a statement in ideal Turkish, the Evangelical Presbyterian minister, who moved to Turkey in 1993, said, "I'm an innocent man - I love Jesus, and I love this country".

"Hundreds of thousands of people have been praying for Pastor Brunson, not just in the United States but around the world", said evangelical Pastor William Devlin from New York City.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had resisted USA demands for Brunson's release, insisting that Turkish courts are independent.

Andrew Brunson, a pastor who had worked in Turkey for 20 years, was arrested in October 2016 as part of a crackdown against political opponents of the country's president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, after a failed coup attempt. With tears in his eyes, he hugged his wife Norine Lyn as he awaited the decision Friday.

Brunson's mother told Reuters she and his father were elated at the news.

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"Pastor Brunson was on trial for the crime of 'Christianization, '" the ACLJ statement said.

Brunson's case became a cause de celebre in the U.S., with evangelicals campaigning hard on the issue. The release could boost Trump's ability to encourage such voters to support Republicans in large numbers in November 6 elections, which will determine whether the party keeps control of Congress. President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were instrumental in the good news.

But the source cautioned that Brunson has appeared close to release before.

Brunson's release doesn't resolve disagreements over USA support for Kurdish fighters in Syria, as well as a plan by Turkey to buy Russian missiles. His prolonged imprisonment led the U.S.to impose sanctions on two Turkish ministers and threaten further penalties were he not released.

If the court agrees to the requests, Brunson could return back to the United States immediately and thus end the friction over his case that caused a crisis in relations between North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies Ankara and Washington.

Brunson, whose possible release was first reported by NBC, has been held since 2016 and his imprisonment led to a rapid decline in relations between Turkey and the USA after President Donald Trump took up his case, and the administration elevated religious freedom as a cause.

In the end, pressure from Washington on Ankara was too much.

"I look forward to returning home and being reunited with my family", Brunson said.

A person involved in efforts to free Andrew Brunson say the 50-year-old pastor from North Carolina could be freed at his next court appearance on Friday.

Erdogan had resisted that USA demands, insisting that Turkish courts are independent. Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin said at the time that the United States was prepared to add more sanctions if Brunson wasn't released.


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