Turkey moves U.S. pastor to house arrest from prison

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Brunson, an Evangelical Presbyterian pastor from North Carolina, was arrested in 2016 during a government crackdown on journalists, academics, and Christian minorities, that followed an attempted coup.

Arrested after the failed Turkish coup attempt in 2016, Brunson was charged with supposed ties to the Kurdistan Workers Party and USA -based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey believes inspired much of the turbulence.

USA officials had been under the impression that the deal was in place, the source said, adding that when Brunson was not released, Pence spoke with Trump and the two agreed harsh new policy measures were needed to force the issue.

"To President Erdogan and the Turkish government, I have a message on behalf of the president of the United States of America: release Pastor Andrew Brunson now or be prepared to face the consequences".

Pompeo said "no credible evidence" had been presented against the pastor and called on Ankara to resolve the case in a "fair" way. "It would be a farce if it weren't so serious", he added.

Trump's tweet echoes comments Vice President Mike Pence made Wednesday night at a religious freedom summit.




Philip Kosnett, the U.S. charge d'affaires in Ankara, who attended all three hearings, said last week he did not believe "there is any indication that pastor Brunson is guilty of any sort of criminal or terrorist activity".

Andrew Craig Brunson, an evangelical pastor from Black Mountain, N.C., waves from a auto as he arrives at his house in Izmir, Turkey, July 25, 2018. "This can not be allowed to continue", he continued. Turkish requests for his arrest and extradition have not been granted. He could receive another 20 years if he is found guilty of espionage. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have demanded that Turkey release Brunson or face sanctions.

Brunson is one of tens of thousands of people detained on similar charges during the state of emergency declared by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the wake of the 2016 failed coup bid.

The case has strained ties between North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies Turkey and the United States. He was detained by Turkish forces in the aftermath of the failed coup, The indictment against him contends he worked to convert Kurds to Christianity to sow discord in Turkey.

At the end of a recent hearing, the court inside a prison complex in the town of Aliaga in western Turkey rejected Brunson's lawyer's request that he be freed pending the outcome of the trial.

Turkish-US relations are already strained over Washington's refusal to extradite Gulen as well as American backing for a Kurdish militia in Syria which Turkey says is linked to the PKK. The case was adjourned until October 12.

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