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Turkey Orders Continued Detention of US Pastor in 'Extremely Grim' Prison

Turkey Orders Continued Detention of US Pastor in 'Extremely Grim' Prison

The trial of American evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson began Monday in Turkey, accused of aiding groups said to have organized a failed coup there in 2016.

"That relationship is going to have difficulty moving forward as long as Andrew Brunson is incarcerated", Brownback told reporters at the trial, according to Reuters.

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

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.

If convicted, he faces 35-years in a Turkish prison - which for 50-year-old Pastor Andrew is essentially a life sentence.

After a grueling first day - nearly 13 hours where "secret witnesses" testified via video link with their faces and voices obscured to the point of being almost incomprehensible - the Turkish judge ordered Pastor Andrew to be returned to prison.

He leads the small Resurrection Church in Izmir, Turkey's third-largest city, on the Aegean Sea.

Former Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, now a State Department ambassador for religious freedom, and North Carolina Sen. I believe in Turkey's integrity. "I have been praying for Turkey for 25 years". Thousands of Turks were fired from their jobs, detained or arrested as the government sought to punish those it considered loyal to Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric living in Pennsylvania who the government blames for the failed coup, a charge Gulen strenuously denies. "I want truth to come out", he said, according to Reuters. As Brunson's lawyer told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that there was no use in pushing this case on political grounds, Brownback said the USA administration, from President Donald Trump down, wanted to see the case resolved and see Brunson "released".

"I do not accept the charges mentioned in the indictment". "Of course I have hope; I want to get a call saying my father is coming home".

The Brunson case has further hiked tensions between North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies Turkey and the United States, with US President Donald Trump raising the issue in talks with Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In his first appearance before the court last week, the pastor, in fluent Turkish, denied all charges against him, including his contacts with the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) blamed for a 2016 coup attempt and the PKK, another terrorist group.

Brunson's wife Norine Brunson leaves the Aliaga court and prison complex after his trial started on Monday.

"I've never done anything against Turkey", Brunson said in court. "I am a Christian pastor".

Brunson bluntly rejected the Turkish government's claim that he, as a Christian, would be working for Gulen's group, an Islamic movement. I'm not in favor of separation.

President Trump talks with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as he arrives at the entrance to the West Wing of the White House in Washington, D.C., on May 16, 2017.

Worldwide observers have noted that Erdogan has exhibited animosity towards Christians, a small minority in Muslim-majority Turkey.

Relations are already strained over American backing for the Kurdish YPG militia in Syria despised by Ankara and the jailing of two employees at American missions in Turkey.

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