U.S. pastor in Turkey on trial for terror ties


An American Christian pastor who has spent the previous year and a half in jail in Turkey strongly rejected terror-related charges on Monday as his trial got underway, in a case that has raised tensions with Washington.

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 US whom Erdogan has accused of fomenting the coup.

An American pastor on Monday denied accusations that he aided terror groups or spied against Turkey, speaking at the beginning of his trial in a case that has strained ties between Turkey and the United States.

Prosecutors are seeking a 15-year prison sentence for crimes Brunson is charged with committing in the name of Gulen's group and the PKK.

Brunson, wearing a white shirt and a black suit, was present in court in the town of Aliaga north of Izmir for the hearing, an AFP correspondent said.

Brunson is accused of allegedly acting together with a group of military and intelligence personnel against the Turkish government and obtaining classified information with the aim of political and military espionage, according to the indictment.

The judge ruled on Monday that Brunson must stay in jail after deeming him to be a flight risk. I am a Christian.

Mecit was also quoted to have said "I have an interest in "Blockchain", yet I have never put resources into Bitcoin".

Monday's court session is going to be appreciated by NY senator Thom Tillis and also USA envoy for religious freedom Sam Brownback.

While Turkey has repeatedly called for Assad's ouster, it has been working closely with regime allies Tehran and Moscow in the Astana peace process, albeit with only moderate success. "I have been praying for Turkey for 25 years", the Cumhuriyet newspaper quoted Brunson as saying.

The comments by Bozdag, the government spokesman, were in response to a reporter's question about an earlier remark from French President, who said Turkey's support of missile strikes against Syria showed it had "separated" from Russian Federation. I would not join an Islamic movement'. Turkey's religious authorities had previously put out an injunction in November of past year saying Bitcoin is "not compatible with Islam".

But they say, 'give us the pastor.' You have another pastor in your hands.

The Turkish government blames the cleric Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania, for masterminding an attempted coup in 2016. 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.

Ismail Cem Halavurt, attorney of this condemned pastor Andrew Brunson, discussions through an interview with Reuters in Izmir, Turkey April 1-5, 2018.