USA pastor on trial in Turkey for terror hyperlinks

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USA envoy for religious freedom Sam Brownback talks to media outside the Aliaga Prison and Courthouse complex in Izmir, Turkey April 16, 2018.

Brunson, originally from North Carolina, faces as many as 35 years in prison if found guilty. In January 2018, the emergency state in Turkey was extended for the sixth time.

The 50-year-old Brunson is an evangelical Christian.

Tillis, a Republican, represents North Carolina, Brunson's home state.

An American Christian pastor who has spent the a year ago and a half in jail in Turkey strongly rejected terror-related charges on Monday as his trial got underway, in a case that has raised tensions with Washington. He is not an armed terrorist trying to overthrow any government, my father is a peaceful pastor.

The overthrow attempt failed.

Norine Brunson was later released.

The case adds to a series of disputes already hurting Turkey's ties with Washington, including the trial of a Turkish banker on charges of helping Iran evade sanctions in NY.

Turkey also accuses him of ties to a group led by exiled Muslim clergyman Fethullah Gulen.

In September past year, Erdogan suggested that Turkey could free Brunson if Washington handed over Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania. He denies any wrongdoing.

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Earlier, the CHP demanded that the Turkish government abolish the state of emergency.

Halavurt claimed he believed Brunson would ultimately be acquitted, and there was no reason behind his continuing detention during trial. "There is no change to the policy Turkey has been carrying out", Bozdag told reporters in Qatar.

"I haven't done anything against Turkey". I would not join an Islamic movement'. "Their aims and mine are different". "But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has demanded that the USA first return cleric Fethullah Gulen".

Erdogan has mentioned a sort of quid pro quo for Brunson's release, wanting to exchange Brunson for Turkish cleric Fetullah Gulen.

In September 2017, Turkey said it would release Brunson if the United States agreed to surrender Gulen.

Sekulow is also one of Trump's lawyers for the Russian investigation, and Trump has personally raised this case with Erdogan, according to the White House. You have a preacher [Gulen] there.

Daniel Hoffman explained the latest in the case: "Today was the very first hearing, he appeared before the court, he strongly denied all the charges against him".

A decree last August gave Erdogan the power to extradite foreigners in exchange for Turkish prisoners overseas in "situations where it is necessary for national security or in the country's interests".

US relations with Turkey have soured recently over a number of issues, including what the USA sees as Erdogan's increasingly authoritarian rule. Meanwhile, a group of servicemen announced about transition of power to them.

George Grow wrote this story for VOA Learning English. 'We want Brunson to be freed immediately'. Write to us in the Comments Section.

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