US pastor faces terror charges in fraught trial in Turkey

US pastor faces terror charges in fraught trial in Turkey

Despite Turkey's cooperation with the likes of Russian Federation and Iran - Mr Assad's main supporters - to abate Syria's ongoing war, Ankara has been vocal about wanting to see the president gone and has even backed rebels against him. He was arrested in October 2016 while running the Resurrection Church in the western city of Izmir. He was arrested over a year ago for alleged connections to both an outlawed Kurdish insurgent group and followers of exiled Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey has branded a terrorist. "I was never involved in any illegal activities", said Brunson, making his defense in Turkish. His wife was in the courtroom, as were North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis and the USA envoy for religious freedom, Sam Brownback. The trial is one of several legal cases which have damaged ties between Turkey and the US.

The relationship between the United States and Turkey is likely to come under pressure as long as a USA pastor remains in jail, a US official responsible for worldwide religious freedom said on Monday. -Turkish relations. The two countries are also at odds over us support for a Kurdish militia in northern Syria that Turkey considers a terrorist organisation.

Gulen denies any association with the coup bid.

Bozdag said: 'Turkey's Syria policy is not a policy of being on the same side or being opposed to another country.

Washington has stepped up efforts recently to secure the release of Brunson, who faces 35 years in prison and is also accused of trying to convert Turks to Christianity. Turkey has repeatedly asked the United States to extradite Pennsylvania-based Gulen, accusing him of organizing the failed 2016 military coup.

Halavurt said on Sunday he believed Brunson would ultimately be acquitted and there was no reason for his continued detention during trial. "We want Brunson to be freed immediately".

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