Sep 13 2018

Majority of Turks approves of Pastor Brunson detention

A public opinion poll published by the Optimar Research polling company reveals that the majority in Turkey approves the detention of Andrew Brunson, a U.S. citizen detained in Turkey since 2016, journalist Abdulkadir Selvi wrote to Turkish pro-government daily Hürriyet on Tuesday.

Brunson, an evangelical pastor living in Turkey for more than 20 years, was arrested in October 2016 as part of a widespread crackdown in the wake of a failed coup in July that year and accused of supporting “terrorist organisations” including the Gülen Movement blamed for the coup attempt.

The survey shows that just 22.8 per cent of Turks do not approve of the pastor’s detention, compared to 65.4 per cent who support it. The survey was conducted through face-to-face interviews with 1787 people from 26 cities, between Aug. 20 and Sep. 1, Selvi said.

Selvi, known for his close contacts with Turkey’s political elite, previously said the dispute over Brunson, which has contributed to the dramatic decline in Turkey’s financial situation this year, now resembles a “wrestling match” between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

A former opposition MP, Aykan Erdemir, has criticised the poll results, calling them "yet another evidence of how Erdoğan-mouthpiece media shapes public opinion in Turkey" in a Twitter post.

The United States imposed a wave of sanctions and tariffs on Turkey targeting the Turkish government’s unlawful detention of U.S. citizen since August. The lira has lost nearly 40% of its value against the dollar following the dispute.

The currency crisis has deepened concerns about the Turkish economy, in particular, its dependence on energy imports and its foreign-currency debt burden.