U.S. evangelical Pastor Andrew Brunson denied release from Turkish prison

19 Juillet, 2018, 06:38 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Turkish Court Rules Against Releasing Hostage U.S. Christian Pastor

Members of Turkish forces patrol the perimeter of a prison complex in Aliaga, Izmir province, western Turkey, where jailed USA pastor Andrew Craig Brunson is appearing for his trial at a court inside the complex. Gulen has denied involvement in the coup attempt.

An American pastor being tried in Turkey on terrorism and spying charges may be freed on Wednesday when prosecution witnesses finish testifying in a case which has deepened a rift between two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies, his lawyer said.

He is accused of aiding the Kurdistan Workers' Party, which opposes Erdoğan and the ruling party, and of having a connection to Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic cleric who Turkey claims orchestrated the coup attempt.

But Halavurt said on Wednesday the prosecution has added the testimony of two new anonymous witnesses to the case and that the court would reconvene on October 12 to hear them and view new evidence.

In the court's third hearing, it was made a decision to keep the pastor in prison until the next hearing on October 12.

Before the start of the July 18 hearing, Philip Kosnett, the USA charge d'affaires in Turkey, told reporters outside the courtroom that Brunson's release is essential for the United States, adding that the case may impact America's relationship with Turkey, according to Reuters.

Arriaga was granted access to Brunson previous year in Kiriklar Prison in Izmir, Turkey, and along with USCIRF Vice Chairman Sandra Jolley were the first outside of family, legal counsel and U.S. Embassy officials to visit him.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has pledged not to prolong it when it expires at midnight Wednesday.

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Speaking to reporters at the end of the hearing, the United States' top diplomat in Turkey expressed disappointment. I have attended three hearings.

"The sooner Andrew Brunson can be reunited with his family the sooner we can start focusing on other issues in the relationship", he said. "I don't believe there is any indication that Pastor Brunson is guilty of any sort of criminal or terrorist activity", said Philip Kosnett, the U.S. Embassy charge d'affaires. Our government remains deeply concerned about his status, as well as the status of other American citizens and Turkish local employees of the USA diplomatic mission who have been detained under state of emergency rules. Brunson's supporters and independent analysts have called the accusations baseless and say he is being used as a bargaining chip by Turkey to win concessions from the United States.

"We believe he is innocent", Nauert said.

"It is really hard to stay in jail and be separated from my wife and children", Brunson, wearing a black suit and a white shirt, told the court in Turkish. "I forgive those who lie and bear false witness against me".

Brunson has been working in Turkey for 23 years as the pastor of the Resurrection Church.

Prosecutors are seeking a 15-year prison sentence for crimes Brunson is charged with committing in the name of Gulen's group and the PKK.

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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