Aug 01 2018

U.S. Pastor Brunson CIA's Turkey chief - pro gov’t columnist

The U.S. Evangelical pastor at the center of heightened tensions between Washington and Ankara is CIA's Turkey chief under the guise of a clergyman, wrote pro-government Yeni Şafak daily columnist Tamer Korkmaz.

U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson, who was arrested in Turkey 19 months ago and is currently on house arrest, faces a possible life sentence on charges of membership of banned terrorist organisations.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence last Thursday threatened NATO- ally Turkey with imposing large sanctions unless Brunson is released.

‘’The same status that Graham Fuller had in Turkey since 1964 is the same status Andrew Craig Brunson, who was here during the July 15 [2016] coup attempt, held: the CIA’s bureau chief in Turkey!’’ Korkmaz wrote.

Stating that the CIA was ‘’on the field’’ on July 15, when a segment of the Turkish military launched an operation in several major cities to unseat President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and topple his leading Justice and Development Party (AKP), Korkmaz said the agency’s ‘’agent Brunson,’’ too, was at work that night.

‘’[Did U.S. President Donald] Trump not share that 13 CIA agents assisted with the coup in Turkey on July 15 during his elections campaign on Twitter?’’ Korkmaz wrote, alleging that the U.S. President later erased that tweet after being cautioned by the CIA.

‘’Brunson’s relations with FETÖ and the PKK have been documented,’’ Korkmaz wrote.

Brunson stands accused of membership in both the Gülen movement, a secretive Islamist group which Ankara refers to as ‘’FETÖ’’ and accuses of masterminding the coup attempt, and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group which is labelled a terrorist organization and has been fighting for autonomy in Turkey for over three decades.

The 50-year-old pastor denies all charges.