U.S. demands release of Pastor Andrew Brunson

The U.S. State Department has demanded the release of a pastor and other U.S. citizens who it says have been unjustly detained in Turkey

Turkish prosecutors have demanded a life sentence for jailed U.S. pastor Andrew Craig Brunson on charges of “membership and management of a terrorist organisation”.

“We are aware of the reports and are working to verify details,” said Nicole Thompson, Senior Officer for Press Relations at the U.S. Department of State in communications with Ahval. Thompson added:

“Pastor Andrew Brunson has been detained in Turkey on false charges since October 2016 without a trial. As Secretary Tillerson said during his visit to Turkey on February 16, we continue to have serious concerns about cases against U.S. citizens who have been arrested under the state of emergency. We call upon Turkey to release Pastor Andrew Brunson and other U.S. citizens whom we believe are being unjustly detained”.

Thompson noted that “the Department of State takes seriously its obligation to assist U.S. citizens arrested abroad.” 

Brunson had been living in the Turkish city of Izmir for 20 years when authorities ordered his deportation for “activities threatening national security” in September 2016.

While his deportation was being carried out, an anonymous witness testified in another case that Brunson had carried out missionary activities across Turkey and had called the Gülen movement. Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement, a religious group, of orchestrating the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Brunson was later arrested on charges of membership to the Gülen movement due to his alleged close contact with seniors members in İzmir. 

The Mardin 3rd Criminal Court on Wednesday rejected the demand for the release of Hamza Uluçay, an employee of the U.S. Consulate in the souther Turkish city of Adana, who is accused of membership of a terrorist organisation. 

The prosecutor has requested a sentence from 7 and-a-half to 15 years for both Uluçay and Cangir for membership of a terrorist organisation. 

Hamza Uluçay had been working as a translator at the US Consulate in Adana for 36 years.

US State Dept