Jul 26, 2018

U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson moves from prison to house arrest in Turkey

Pastor Andrew Craig Brunson being escorted by Turkish police officers. Photo: Stringer/AFP/Getty Images

American pastor Andrew Brunson was released from prison in Turkey on Wednesday after being imprisoned for more than a year and a half on terrorism charges, according to the U.S. State Department.

The details: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called it a "positive development," but added, "it is not enough. We have seen no credible evidence against Mr. Brunson, and we call on Turkish authorities to resolve his case immediately in a transparent and fair manner." Axios has previously reported that senior Trump administration officials assume Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is using Brunson to force the U.S. to extradite Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish dissident living in Pennsylvania who Erdogan believes has been organizing a revolution against him.

President Trump has called for the release of Brunson twice this year calling it a "total disgrace" that Turkey has not released the pastor.

Brunson, 50, an evangelical pastor from North Carolina, had denied the charges. The Associated Press reports that if convicted, he could face up to 15 years in prison for the failed coup attempt. Brunson could also get another 20 years if found guilty of espionage.

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Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

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Democrats demand new Russia sanctions over 2020 election interference

Putin and Trump. Photo: Kremlin Press Office/Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Senate Democratic leaders will send a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Monday afternoon demanding they sanction Russia — and potentially Russian President Vladimir Putin himself — for attempting to influence the 2020 presidential election.

Why it matters: The letter follows reports that a senior intelligence official briefed Congress that Russia is again interfering in the November election to help Trump. White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien repeatedly rejected that assessment on Sunday, and CNN later reported that the briefer may have overstated the intelligence community's evidence about Russia's goals.