Published: Sat, April 21, 2018

Turkey's Charges Against Jailed American Pastor Are 'Laughable,' Says Top State Dept

Turkey's Charges Against Jailed American Pastor Are 'Laughable,' Says Top State Dept

Brownback is reported to be in the Turkish capital Ankara tomorrow (17 April) for meetings about the Brunson trial, which is complicating relations between the United States and Turkey, two erstwhile North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies.

"They call him a Spy, but I am more a Spy than he is", Trump tweeted late Tuesday.

Brunson, who's accused of espionage and assisting terror bands, needs to really be allowed to "allowed to come home to his family at which he belongs", Trump explained.

Trump's comments come hours after a Turkish court ruled that Andrew Brunson, 50, must remain in prison as his trial proceeds.

Brunson's trial is one of several legal cases roiling U.S.

I haven't done anything against Turkey. I reject all the accusations in the indictment.

That failed coup resulted in a sweeping government crackdown against dissidents, also Brunson was held in October 20-16 on offenses.

The American was ordered to appear at the next hearing, on May 7.

"I am a Christian pastor", Brunson said during the hearing.

Brunson lived in Turkey for 23 years and served as Pastor of the Izmir Resurrection Church. "We hope that the judicial system in Turkey will resolve his case in a timely, fair, and transparent manner".

Prosecutors accused Brunson of using missionary activities as a cover to work with the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, and with the organization of Fethullah Gulen, a USA -based Turkish cleric who Turkey says orchestrated a 2016 coup attempt. Thom Tillis, a Republican, and Sam Brownback, the ambassador for worldwide religious freedom, attended Monday's hearing.

"Having grown up in Turkey, it has been hard for me to understand the situation", she said.

He had earlier told the judge tearfully: 'I want to return my home.

"I am a Christian warrior", Brunson mentioned throughout the hearing. "I would not join an Islamic movement".

Senator Tillis said there was "no deal", adding: "This is about what we believe is an innocent man who has been in prison for a year and a half".

The case has raised tensions - further - between the US and Turkey, which in recent years has been regressing toward a Shariah-compliant theocracy.

Gulen denies any role in the failed coup and says his Hizmet - meaning "service" - movement promotes a peaceful form of Islam.

But Erdogan suggested that his fate could be linked to the US -based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen.

"People are deeply concerned and focused and interested in this case", said former senator and governor of Kansas, Sam Brownback, who was present in Turkey to attend Brunson's hearing, The New York Times reported. "These elements seek to undercut the longstanding partnership between the United States and Turkey, in which our two nations have enjoyed close diplomatic, economic and military ties".

The Turkish Association of Protestant Churches said in a report that 2017 was marked by continued hate crimes and physical attacks.

Last September, President Erdogan had suggested publicly to the United States that it swap "your pastor" (Brunson) in exchange for Turkey's demanded U.S. extradition of "our cleric" (Gülen) to Turkey.

The two countries are at odds over US support for the Kurdish militia in northern Syria, as Turkey considers the militia a terrorist organization and launched a military campaign against it in late January, raising fears that Turkish and American troops could come face-to-face in a potential conflict in war-torn Syria.

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