Evidence in U.S. pastor Brunson case includes food video - analysis

The 62-page indictment of U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson, who faces a possible life sentence in Turkey on charges of membership of banned terrorist organisations, such as the Gülen movement, accused of plotting the July 2016 coup - cites a video of a Middle Eastern dish which is popular among members of the movement, citizen times website reports.

‘’Maklube "is a dish cooked by members of the organization at meetings and religious gatherings at the FETÖ/PDY armed terrorist organization's cell houses," the article quotes the indictment as saying, while highlighting that a video on the rice and meat dish sent by Brunson’s daughter to him is actual evidence in Brunson’s indictment.

Brunson, who has been living in Turkey for two decades, is charged with membership of both the Gülen movement, which the Turkish government has labelled the Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ) and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a secular Kurdish left-wing group fighting Turkey since 1984. The U.S. pastor has denies the criminal charges.

The passage pertaining to the food video is one of the ‘’many odd accusations Brunson,’’ the article says.

The same indictment  also says all Christian churches in the U.S. are directed by an organization called CAMA, which includes the FBI and CIA as members, that Mormons make up nearly 40 percent of members of the United States' armed forces serving overseas, and that information someone gathered about gas stations in Turkey shows Brunson was involved in an effort to overthrow the Turkish government, according to the article.

Brunson was leading a small Christian church in Izmir, one of Turkey's largest cities, located in the southwestern part of the country.

The article goes on to explain that Brunson's indictment includes that his church welcomed Kurdish members and that Brunson had contact with Gülen followers. The U.S. pastor has denied helping either group.

The indictment, however, alleges a number of contacts between Brunson and supposed members of ‘FETÖ’ and the PKK, but little is said about what aid prosecutors hold Brunson gave to either group, the article explains.

The U.S. State Department has called for Turkey to release Brunson and in February, 37 U.S. senators and 78 members of Congress signed a letter to Erdoğan demanding his unconditional release.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in September of last year that Turkey would exchange Brunson for U.S.-based Turkish preacher Fethullah Gülen, the man Ankara accuses of orchestrating the 2016 abortive putsch.

Brunson’s next hearing is set to take place on Monday.