Published: Thu, May 10, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Trial of United States pastor on terror charges resumed in Turkey

Trial of United States pastor on terror charges resumed in Turkey

A witness testifying anonymously against a US pastor accused of spying and terror-related charges in Turkey claimed May 7 that the American helped Kurdish militants and aimed to create a Christian Kurdish state, the country's state-run news agency reported.

Turkish soldiers stand guard at the entrance of the Aliaga court and prison complex, during the trial of United States pastor Andrew Brunson, held on charges of aiding terror groups, in Aliaga, north of Izmir, on May 7, 2018.

In a July 2017 interview with NPR, Gulen insisted that he is not the man behind the failed coup, and further called Erdogan an "oppressor" who has caused suffering to "thousands of innocents".

According to The Wall Street Journal,"Mr. Erdogan is upset by the lack of USA action on his repeated demands to deport a Turkish cleric he accuses of fomenting a failed military coup in Turkey in the summer of 2016".

"I haven't done anything against Turkey", Brunson declared during Monday's 11-hour hearing.

Anadolu quoted Brunson as saying: 'These accusations are shameful and disgusting. There is not one photograph or tape recording praising the PKK at the (Izmir) Resurrection Church.

Carter told Premier Turkish church leaders have been showing the pastor support during the trial. Our doors were open to everyone. Even though I have a long public track record as a church pastor, they falsely accuse me of being a member of an Islamist terrorist group.

Brunson later said that he wanted to 'go home, ' according to Hurriyet newspaper. Brunson's next hearing is July 18.

Turkish-US relations are already strained over American backing for a Kurdish militia in Syria which Turkey says is linked to the PKK, as well as the jailing of two employees from American missions in Turkey.

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USA officials including President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have called for his release, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has expressed his concern regarding the ongoing detention.

The US president added: 'They call him a Spy, but I am more a Spy than he is. "Hopefully he will be allowed to come home to his lovely family where he belongs!"

Some activists, such as William Devlin, who is the Missions Pastor of Infinity Bible Church in NY and has been attending Brunson's trial in Izmir, have argued that instead of giving Gulen $800 million in funding for charter schools, the USA should extradite the cleric back to Turkey.

In a sign of the importance of the case to Washington, US embassy charge d'affaires Philip Kosnett as well as Sandra Jolley, vice chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, were present at Monday's hearing.

"Worse still", Jolley continued, "the judge's decision at the conclusion of today's hearing to dismiss all of the witnesses called by Pastor Brunson's defense without listening to a single minute of their testimony is simply unconscionable".

"The truth is that this case is part of a larger decline in personal freedoms, including religious freedom and human rights, that we are witnessing in Turkey in recent years", she said.

"In a September 2017 speech, Erdogan made his case for a trade-off, "'Give us the pastor back, ' they say. The pastor, who led a small congregation in Izmir for the past two decades before his arrest, has denied all charges.

Meanwhile, the global Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) launched a call to prayer and fasting over the weekend in "an effort to stand with and pray for the entire Brunson family". Both the Gulen movement and the PKK are banned by Turkey as terror groups.

The indictment against him - based on the testimony of witnesses, including three secret ones, and digital evidence - claims the pastor worked to convert Kurds to Christianity to sow discord in Turkey.

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