Turkey: Imprisoned American Pastor Andrew Brunson Could Face 35-Year Sentence
'They call him a Spy, but I am more a Spy than he is.
"Pastor Andrew Brunson, a fine gentleman and Christian leader in the United States, is on trial and being persecuted in Turkey for no reason", Trump tweeted. "Hopefully he will be allowed to come home to his handsome family where he belongs!" he added.
The president's tweet had drawn about 74,000 likes and 38,000 comments by Wednesday night.
Brunson, a 50-year-old evangelical pastor from North Carolina, faces up to 35 years in prison. Trump tweeted. The government was quiet on the USA president's remarks when Daily Sabah went to print, but Mahir Ünal, deputy chair and spokesman of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, kindly warned Trump not to intervene in the case. Differences over strategy in Syria, as well as Brunson's "protracted detention" have damaged relations, the newspaper reported.
He's accused of acting in support of terrorism through his Christian church activities.
The State Department has said Brunson's case was being watched closely by "the entire USA government".
The Brunson case has further hiked tensions between North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies Turkey and the United States, with US President Donald Trump raising the issue in talks with Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
In March, Tillis visited Brunson in prison.
Washington has urged the Turkish government to release Brunson, while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has suggested that the pastor can be freed if the us extradites Gulen, the cleric who has been blamed for instigating the failed 2016 coup.
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That failed coup led to a sweeping government crackdown against suspected dissidents, and Brunson was initially held in October 2016 on immigration-related offenses. He was imprisoned that December on "a serious, yet completely unfounded, charge - 'membership in an armed terrorist organization, ' " according to the the American Center for Law and Justice, a not-for-profit religious corporation based in Washington, D.C.
Thousands of Turks were fired from their jobs, detained or arrested as the government sought to punish those it considered loyal to Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric living in Pennsylvania who the government blames for the failed coup, a charge Gulen strenuously denies.
Turkey also claims Brunson passed along state secrets and intelligence that might be useful in the event of a war, such as the location of railway stations.
'I want the whole truth to be revealed. A senator from North Carolina and the U.S. Ambassador at large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback were among those attending his trial in İzmir, which was later postponed to next month.
"I reject the charges mentioned in the indictment". I believe in Turkey's integrity.
"I've never done something against Turkey", Brunson said, rejecting the charge of his involvement in the Gulen Movement.
The case has raised tensions - further - between the US and Turkey, which in recent years has been regressing toward a Shariah-compliant theocracy. I am a Christian.
And the dustup comes amid tensions between the us and Turkey over the conflict in Syria, where Turkish officials have claimed the U.S.is intentionally stalling the fight against Islamic State militants. "I would not join an Islamic movement". "You have a pastor, too", Erdogan said in a speech, adding, "You give us that one and we'll work with our judiciary and give back yours".
"Everyone in the family is holding their breath", said Jacqueline Furnari, Brunson's daughter, who was raised in Turkey but moved back to the USA several years ago.