Mar 27 2018

U.S. pastor due in court next month on terror charges

A U.S. pastor held in a Turkish jail for 18 months without trial will appear in court on April 18 charged with terrorism offences, France24 reported citing AFP.

Andrew Brunson, who ran a church in the western city of Izmir until his arrest in October 2016, is charged with supporting and carrying out activities for the Fethullah Gulen movement, which is accused by the Turkish government of masterminding the July 2016 military coup.

Brunson faces two separate terms of 15 years and 20 years in jail, if convicted, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.

U.S. senators have expressed extreme concern about Brunson’s detention saying he may be being held hostage by the Turkish government because Washington has refused to hand over Gulen, who resides at a mansion in Pennsylvania, due to lack of evidence for his extradition.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in October last year that Washington should hand over Gulen in order to ensure Brunson’s release.

"They say 'give us the pastor'. You have a preacher (Gulen) there. Give him to us, and we will try (Brunson) and give him back," Erdogan said.

President Donald Trump raised the issue of Brunson with Erdogan during recent talks in Washington, but to no avail.