Published: Thu, July 19, 2018

Trump calls for Turkey to release United States pastor accused of spying

Trump calls for Turkey to release United States pastor accused of spying

The decision was based on allegations made by an unnamed witness.

The court listened to the testimony of a witness who was identified as "L. A".

L.A. told the court that he had 8-10 years of acquaintance with the pastor, adding that the pastor was anti-Turk, bringing an example where the pastor had written on chairs of his church: "Turks can not sit", claimed Turkish state-media TRT.

Kosnett gave a quick speech in front of the courthouse, denying that there is any indication of Brunson's guilt. "I have read the indictment, attended three hearings".

"We encourage the Administration to use all the tools at their disposal to ensure the release of these innocent people before Congress is forced to press for even stricter legislative measures that will be hard to unwind", Senators Thom Tillis, Jeanne Shaheen, James Lankford, and Lindsey Graham said. We have great faith in the commitment of Turkish people to justice.

She added: "We continue to call on the Turkish government to quickly resolve this case in a timely and transparent and fair manner".

Turkey's lira weakened against the dollar immediately after the ruling, reflecting investor worries about tensions with the United States.

Brunson was pastor of the Izmir Resurrection Church, serving a small Protestant congregation in Turkey's third-largest city, south of the Aegean town of Aliaga where he is now on trial.

"We have been saying that he must be released under the law since day one", Halavurt was quoted by Reuters as saying. "Today, I was hoping to see the judge order his complete release and put an end to the miscarriage of justice that Pastor Brunson's entire case represents".

Turkey's two-year state of emergency imposed after a failed coup is due to expire on Wednesday night, but critics of the government say new powers obtained by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan make the move "cosmetic".

Andrew Craig Brunson, a 50-year-old evangelical pastor from Black Mountain, North Carolina, was arrested in the aftermath of a 2016 coup attempt for alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, as well as a network led by USA -based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey blames for the unrest.

Twenty American citizens have been prosecuted under the state of emergency since the failed coup, majority Turkish-American dual citizens accused of links with Gulen's movement. Brunson was later charged for espionage and for speaking in favor of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). He was charged with alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK), as well as a network led by USA -based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey blames for the unrest. Turkey maintains his movement is responsible for the coup.

Brunson has denied any links to terrorist organizations, and in his own defense Wednesday he said he eschewed all politics in his work.

"There is not a single concrete piece of evidence that connects me to the PKK", he told the court.

"The sooner Andrew Brunson can be reunited with his family the sooner we can start focusing on other issues in the relationship", he said.

Insulting the president is a crime punishable by up to four years in prison in Turkey, and Erdogan's lawyers have filed more than 1,800 cases against people on such accusations.

Speaking to reporters at the end of the hearing, the United States' top diplomat in Turkey expressed disappointment.

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