Tuesday, 22 January, 2019

USA pastor faces terror charges in fraught trial in Turkey

Turkish Police Turkish Police
Deanna Wagner | 17 April, 2018, 10:30

An American pastor facing terrorism-related charges in Turkey will appear for the first time in court Monday as his trial is set to begin.

Andrew Brunson, an evangelical pastor from North Carolina, has been detained by Turkish authorities since October 2016.

United States pastor Andrew Brunson goes on trial in Turkey today facing up to 35 years in jail after being accused of aiding a terrorist group held responsible for the failed 2016 coup against President Tayyip Erdogan.

The ACLJ, who have taken on Brunson's case, says the SC native had no prior run-ins with the Turkish government and had been sharing the gospel there 23 years. Washington has demanded his launch.

FILE - In this September 24, 2013 file photo, Turkish Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen is pictured at his residence in Saylorsburg, Pa.

Turkey has submitted an extradition request to the US for Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania, but so far it not been granted.

"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.

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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. "Will the judge and the authorities trying the case agree to my request that they let Pastor Brunson go free and imprison me in place of him?" said Devlin.

An ACLJ petition calling for Pastor Brunson's release has almost half a million signatures.

Both are banned by Turkey as terror groups.

For Brunson, the Chairman flew on Sunday in the Resurrection Church in Izmir, and his wife Norine read a message out at that he spoke about quiet and this darkness with his detention.

"To accuse him of "Christianization" - equating it to membership in an armed terrorist organization and military/political espionage against the people he'd come to love - is ludicrous". "We want to see it resolved and we want to see him released", Brownback added. The indictment — based on the testimonies of witnesses, including three secret ones, and alleged digital evidence — claims the pastor worked to convert Kurds to Christianity to sow discord.

Talking about the trial, Halavurt said he expects Brunson to be released on Monday over what he called "very weak" accusations. If anything, I think the information that has been presented today creates a more compelling reason why he is innocent, ' Tillis told reporters after the ruling.