Jailed American pastor on trial in Turkey transferred to house arrest

An American pastor imprisoned for nearly two years on terror and espionage charges in Turkey has been transferred to house arrest as his trial continues, Fox News confirmed Wednesday.

Turkish officials said Pastor Andrew Craig Brunson was moved from a jail in western Turkey to a house due to health reasons. He is banned from leaving his residence and the country.

The 50-year-old evangelical pastor from Black Mountain, North Carolina was arrested in December 2016 for allegedly “committing crimes on behalf of terror groups,” a reference to outlawed Kurdish militants and the network of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is blamed for a failed coup attempt.

Brunson, who has vehemently denied the charges, faces 15 years in prison for the terror charges and an additional 20 years for espionage.

The case has strained ties between NATO allies Turkey and the United States. President Trump has repeatedly demanded Brunson's release.

Trump tweeted in Brunson's defense last week, calling it "a total disgrace" that Brunson is being held. "He has done nothing wrong, and his family needs him!"

Brunson's case was among issues Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed during a recent telephone call.

Brunson's case has been adjourned until Oct. 12.

The U.S. State Department has not commented.

Fox News' Nick Kalman contributed to this report.