ANKARA (Reuters) – A Turkish prosecutor on Tuesday sought a life sentence for a U.S. pastor over alleged hyperlinks to a failed coup try in 2016, Dogan information company reported, a transfer that threatens to undermine efforts to fix bilateral ties.
Washington believes Andrew Brunson, who has been in jail since December 2016, is one in all a number of Americans unjustly detained in Turkey. During a go to to Ankara final month, former U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson known as for him to be freed.
The Christian pastor from North Carolina has been residing in Turkey for 23 years and working a church, in accordance with a web based petition searching for his launch.
The prosecutor charged him with being an “executive” of the group that Ankara holds accountable for the failed coup, the information company mentioned. Turkey blames the community of Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based Muslim cleric who denies all involvement.
In September, President Tayyip Erdogan recommended Turkey may free Brunson if the United States handed over Gulen.
It was not instantly clear what expenses had been introduced in opposition to the pastor within the indictment. The prosecutor’s workplace couldn’t be reached for remark.
Brunson was accused of acquiring secret paperwork with the purpose of political or army espionage, and making an attempt to overthrow the federal government, Dogan and different Turkish media reported when he was initially questioned greater than a 12 months in the past.
The accusations had been based mostly on the testimony of a secret witness, who mentioned Brunson was in shut contact with Gulen’s community and receiving funds from it for missionary actions.
Brunson denied the allegations, saying he was a defender of Jesus Christ and would by no means help any Islamic motion, Dogan reported on the time.
The U.S. and Turkey have been at odds over a number of points, notably Washington’s help in Syria for the YPG, a Kurdish militant group deemed terrorist by Turkey, and the standing of Gulen.
Tillerson mentioned throughout his official go to that Washington had “serious concerns” about instances in opposition to U.S. residents arrested below the state of emergency in place in Turkey for the reason that coup try, and mentioned Brunson and others must be freed.
Following Tillerson’s go to, the 2 nations shaped joint working teams to fix their relations.
Brunson’s daughter on Friday instructed the United Nations Human Rights Council that the phobia allegations in opposition to her father had been “absurd,” in accordance with the European Centre for Law and Justice, a bunch supporting his case.
“Turkey should not get away with holding my father one more day,” Jacqueline Brunson mentioned, urging the U.N. to assist get him launched.
“I know the allegations against my father are absurd. He is …a peaceful pastor.”
Writing by Ece Toksabay; Editing by David Dolan and John Stonestreet