Tuesday, 24 April, 2018

American Clergyman Denies Terror Links, Spying in Turkish Court

US pastor faces terror charges in fraught trial in Turkey Turkish stocks up nearly 1 percent at close
Steven Clarke | 17 April, 2018, 10:31

The trial of US evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson began in Izmir, Turkey, on Monday, with the former Protestant church leader declaring that he is innocent and that he has been praying for the Muslim-majority country for 25 years.

In particular, Turkey has accused Brunson of working for the Gulenist movement, a political organization led by Fetullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric in exile in the USA whom Erdogan has accused of fomenting the coup. His case has become a cause celebre for Christian activists, the Wall Street Journal reported.

"We are deeply disappointed that Turkish officials today chose to prolong their prosecution and unjust imprisonment of Pastor Andrew Brunson", said USCIRF Chairman Dr. Daniel Mark. "But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has demanded that the USA first return cleric Fethullah Gulen".

"Turkey is neither chasing the same goals as Iran, Russia nor is it a country chasing the same objectives as the US", Bozdag said.

The government says the purges and detentions aim to remove from state institutions and other parts of society the supporters of Fethullah Gulen, a US-based, self-exiled religious leader blamed by Turkey for the attempted coup.

This article has been adapted from its original source.

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According to the American Center for Law and Justice, Brunson was running the Resurrection Church in the western city of Izmir and applying for permanent residency when he was detained in October 2016. He was also accused of attempting to convert Kurds to Christianity.

Turkey has sent a spate of documents to back up its repeated request for Gulen's extradition from the United States, which has so far shown no sign of interest in expelling the preacher. Thom Tillis were in the courtroom Monday. I reject all the accusations in the indictment.

Brunson's lawyer said he was healthy but "demoralized" after being stuck behind bars, having missed his daughter's engagement and another child's graduation. On the contrary, I love Turkey.

In September past year, Erdogan suggested that Turkey could free Brunson if Washington handed over Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania. "We want Brunson to be freed immediately".

"After Ghouta, it's likely the Syrian government will head south - the current situation in Deraa must be finished off", said Bassam Abou Abdallah, who heads the Damascus Centre for Strategic Studies.

Gulen, now lives in exile in Pennsylvania, and in a speech past year Erdogan appeared to suggest Brunson could be traded for Gulen.

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