S.C. pastor released from Russian prison

Update: The Post and Courier reports that Pastor Phillip Miles has been released from prison. No word on when he'll be returning home to South Carolina, although he said that he hope to continue his humanitarian work in Russia, despite the incident.

Original story: A pastor from Christ Community Church in Conway is being released from prison in Russia after spending five months there on a charge of smuggling ammunition. Pastor Phillip Miles said that the rifle cartridges were a gift for another missionary, and a Russian court recently ordered him released, even though he was originally sentenced to three years. He is expected to be released Tuesday.

From Live 5 News:
The Conway church's lawyer says congregation members say this is the best news they could get.

"Everyone is just thrilled. I mean people are laughing, shouting crying... I think people just feel a sense of joy and relief," says attorney Dominic Starr.

The US Embassy in Russia is working on getting Pastor Miles's exit visa for his trip back home. He's expected to be back in the US within the next week.

From The Press Association:
A pastor at the Christ Community Church in Conway, South Carolina, Miles was convicted in April after security officers at a Moscow airport found a box of .300-calibre cartridges in his luggage.

He repeatedly apologised, saying that the ammunition was for a Russian friend who had recently bought a Winchester rifle and that he did not know bringing such ammunition into the country was illegal.

Defence lawyer Vladimir Ryakhovsky argued that the English-language customs signs at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport were confusing and made no mention of ammunition.

The lower Golovinsky District Court judge rejected the lawyer's arguments and Miles' apologies, saying she could not condone ignorance of Russian customs regulations and noted Miles had visited the country more than 10 times.

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