Published: Tue, April 17, 2018
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

Jailed For His Faith? American Pastor to Stand Trial in Turkey Monday

Jailed For His Faith? American Pastor to Stand Trial in Turkey Monday

His test is one of many valid cases that may have strained relations between Turkey and also the united states of america, that are also at odds over US service to get a Kurdish militia in northern Syria that Turkey considers a terrorist association.

Brunson, originally from North Carolina, faces as many as 35 years in prison if found guilty.

Turkey on Monday hit back at French President Emmanuel Macron over his comments that the weekend's air strikes against the Syrian regime had driven a wedge between Ankara and its increasingly close ally Moscow. The cleric, Fethullah Gulen, denies the claim.

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. "They say 'give us the pastor, ' he said".

"There is evidence that shows Brunson was arrested due to his faith", the pastor's lawyer, Ismail Cem Halavurt told Reuters on the eve of the trial, saying Brunson's religious role was "classified as aiding terror organizations".

Washington has called for Brunson's release while Erdogan suggested a year ago his fate could be linked to that of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whose extradition Ankara has repeatedly sought to face charges over the coup attempt.

But Erdogan fired back at Washington, demanding that the USA first return Gulen.

Gulen, who now resides in Pennsylvania, has been accused of attempting to overthrow the Turkish government during a 2016 coup.

The Rev Andrew Brunson, 50, who has led a small evangelical congregation in the Resurrection Church in the city of Izmir since 1993, was arrested in October 2016.

His wife Norine, who was detained with him and then released in December 2016, was also present in court for the hearing.

If convicted, Brunson could be imprisoned for several years in a Turkish prison.

Both are banned by Turkey as terror groups. Brunson is accused of acting in "parallel and coordinated fashion" with them, aiming to "divide" the country.

Being a member of Gulenist movement is an insult, Brunson told the court, because as a Christian man he wants to raise followers for Jesus Christ.

The indictment also charges Brunson with revealing state secrets, alleging that he communicated with people who gathered details about gas and railway stations, information which would have strategic importance during a war or occupation.

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