Turkish justice minister: Brunson was not acquitted, he was convicted

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ANKARA, TURKEY - OCTOBER 18 : Minister of Justice of Turkey, Abdulhamit Gul speaks as he is special guest of Anadolu Agency's Editors’ Desk in Ankara, Turkey on October 18, 2018. AFP PHOTOS

Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül on Thursday said American pastor Andrew Brunson was not acquitted by a Turkish court but rather was convicted and that only his travel ban was lifted, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

“Turkish court didn’t reach its ruling under pressure or because of an order. The independent court reached a decision. This person was not acquitted, the court convicted him,” Gül said on the agency’s “Editor’s Desk” program.

Brunson had been detained in Turkey on terrorism charges for almost two years and was later put under house arrest. On Oct. 12 the İzmir 2nd High Criminal Court sentenced him to three years, one-and-a-half months but released him for time already served.

After the house arrest decision in July, the US administration sanctioned the Turkish interior and justice ministers. Despite Brunson’s release, the sanctions have not yet been lifted.

The Brunson crisis strained relations between the two NATO allies. US President Donald Trump said there was “no deal” behind Brunson’s release but repeatedly thanked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

On Wednesday US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Turkey to meet with President Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, his first visit since resolution of the crisis.

Pompeo reportedly asked about another jailed US-Turkish dual citizen, Serkan Gölge, a former NASA scientist, and local US mission workers who have been jailed on terrorism charges.

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