United States pastor faces espionage, terror charges in Turkey trial

Speaking truth to empire

Andrew Brunson is facing charges of "committing crimes on behalf of terror groups without being a member" and "espionage".

A Turkish court on Monday began hearing allegations against Andrew Brunson, a Christian pastor from North Carolina, on charges of links to the group that orchestrated a 2016 failed coup in Turkey.

"Give him (Gulen) to us, and we will try (Brunson) and return him", Erdogan said a year ago.

Washington officials say Ankara is using Brunson's case to force the U.S.to extradite the cleric, and they are calling for his release.

The Turkish government blames the cleric Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania, for masterminding an attempted coup in 2016. You have a preacher [Gulen] there.

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A USA pastor began trial in Turkey Monday on charges he aided in the military coup attempt almost two years ago. She was released, while his charges have been upgraded to supporting Gulen's network, which Turkey has labeled a terrorist organization.

Brunson has served as the pastor of Izmir Resurrection Church with a small Protestant congregation.

A decree last August gave Erdogan the power to extradite foreigners in exchange for Turkish prisoners overseas in "situations where it is necessary for national security or in the country's interests".

He was arrested in the aftermath of a failed military coup in 2016, for alleged links to both the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, and a network led by US -based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is blamed by Turkey for the coup attempt. -Turkish relations. The two countries are also at odds over USA support for a Kurdish militia in northern Syria that Turkey considers a terrorist organisation.

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