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An American pastor imprisoned in Turkey is going on trial for alleged terror ties and spying in a case that has increased tensions between Washington and Ankara.
Andrew Craig Brunson, an evangelical pastor from North Carolina, is facing 35 years in prison on charges of “committing crimes on behalf of terror groups without being a member” and “espionage.” The trial begins Monday in western Izmir province.
It is important to note that the article goes on to state the following:
He was arrested in December 2016 for alleged links to both an outlawed Kurdish insurgent group and the network of the U.S.-based Muslim cleric who Turkey blames for a masterminding a failed military coup that year. The cleric, Fethullah Gulen, denies the claim.
American officials have repeatedly requested that Brunson be released. In a meeting last year with his Turkish counterpart, President Donald Trump asked that the government “expeditiously” return the pastor to the U.S. But the appeals have not made much headway.
Turkey has submitted an extradition request to the U.S. for Gulen. According to the report, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanded that Brunson’s release would come after the U.S. gives Turkey Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania.
“You give him to us and we’ll give you this one,” Erdogan said in September, referring to Gulen and Brunson, respectively.
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