Brunson is accused of having links with terrorists and espionage
In Turkey on Monday began the trial of an American pastor Andrew Branson, who faces up to 35 years in prison.
Brunson, who has been in prison since December of 2016, is accused of “committing crimes on behalf of terrorist groups, a member of which he is not” and “espionage”.He was arrested more than a year ago on suspicion of having links with the illegal Kurdish separatist group and followers of the Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey considers a terrorist.
Sam Branson denies all charges against him. The US has repeatedly urged Turkey to release the pastor. “At the earliest possible date” to release him was made by President Donald trump.
In September, Turkey said it was ready to release Bransen, if the United States extradite Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania.
“They say: “Give us a pastor.” You are the preacher (gülen). Give it to us and we will hold a court (on Brunson) and return it,” – said in a televised address, the President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Brunson, who has lived in Turkey for 23 years, and his wife Noreen, was arrested in October 2016, on suspicion of violating immigration law. The wife of the pastor was later released, and against Brunson were accused of support of a network of Gulen’s supporters, which Turkey considers a terrorist organization.
The pastor was the head of the Christian Church in Izmir on the Aegean coast.
In August last year, a decree was passed, giving Erdogan authority to extradite foreign citizens in exchange for Turkish prisoners held in other countries, “in situations where it is necessary for national security or in the interests of the country.” Turkey has repeatedly asked the US to extradite Gulen, who is accused of organizing the coup attempt in 2016. Gülen any involvement in the coup denies.
The relationship between the US and Turkey recently complicated by several factors, including dissatisfaction with the United States about the increasing authoritarianism of Erdogan.