Turkey doubles down in pastor row with US

Al-Monitor | 3/16/2018 | Staff
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A Turkish prosecutor is seeking up to 35 years in jail for Andrew Brunson, the American pastor at the heart of a bitter diplomatic spat between Ankara and Washington. Held on terror-related charges since October 2016, Brunson has seemingly become a bargaining chip, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggesting last year that the pastor could go home if Washington extradited Fethullah Gulen, the Pennsylvania-based preacher accused of masterminding the July 15, 2016, coup attempt.

According to media reports, a prosecutor in the western city of Izmir where Brunson is held has finally drawn up an indictment against the 50-year-old, who has been based in Turkey for more than two decades. Brunson pastored the Resurrection Church in Izmir, where he lived with his family as part of a tiny Protestant community. Neither Brunson nor his lawyer has seen the indictment yet, though it was leaked to the media this week.

Al-Monitor - Brunson - Lawyer - Ismail - Cem

Speaking to Al-Monitor, Brunson's lawyer Ismail Cem Halavurt deplored that “the leaking of the indictment before the parties have seen it amounts to a violation of confidentiality.”

Soner Tufan, the spokesman of the Association of Protestant Churches in Turkey, said, “We have failed to obtain the indictment thus far. We don’t know what exactly the charges are.”

Brunson - Wife - News - Indictment - Time

Brunson's wife is said to be disappointed, upset and anxious after the news of the indictment. At the same time, she is somewhat relieved, for the judicial process seems to be finally moving after stagnating for months.

Though the details of the charges remain ambiguous, Brunson’s interrogation by prosecutors provides some insight into the case. According to Halavurt, the accusations rest on the testimony of a secret witness, with two issues standing out.

Claim - Witness - Brunson - Bekir - Baz

The first is a claim by the secret witness that Brunson met frequently with Bekir Baz, who is said to be the person responsible for the Aegean...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Al-Monitor
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