US pastor in Turkey on trial for terror ties

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Brunson, originally from North Carolina, faces as many as 35 years in prison if found guilty.

Brunson has served as the pastor of Izmir Resurrection Church with a small Protestant congregation.

An American Christian pastor who has spent the previous year 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.

Andrew Brunson was arrested in 2016 while he was working as a missionary there and accused of partaking in terrorist organisations.

"We are deeply disappointed that Turkish officials today chose to prolong their prosecution and unjust imprisonment of Pastor Andrew Brunson", said USCIRF Chairman Dr. Daniel Mark. Norine was also present in court for the hearing.

Brunson's next hearing is scheduled for May 7. "And you'll continue to see a very high-level U.S. government interest in this, until he is released". Thom Tillis of North Carolina is expected to attend the trial at some point.

He and his wife Norine were arrested for suspected immigration violations in October 2016. "We want Brunson to be freed immediately". I reject all the accusations in the indictment.

"I did not engage in any illegal activity". On the contrary, I love Turkey.

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In some instances, Israel has not specified what actions the Palestinians took that led Israeli forces to kill them. Spokesman Hazem Qasem dismissed Lieberman's claims.

Bozdag said: 'Until now, has the policy put forward by Turkey changed? No.

The lawyer for a United States pastor who goes on trial in Turkey on Monday over alleged links to a group accused of orchestrating a failed military coup said the preacher had been arrested for his "Christian faith".

Relations are already strained over American backing for a Kurdish militia in Syria despised by Ankara and the jailing of two employees at American missions in Turkey.

Turkey has submitted an extradition request to the USA for Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania, but so far it not been granted.

Washington officials say Ankara is using Brunson's case to force the U.S.to extradite the cleric, and they are calling for his release.

However the charges appear lighter than those outlined in the original indictment published on March 13, in which Brunson was accused of being a member of Gulen's group and risked life imprisonment if convicted. I am a Christian. I would not join an Islamic movement'. The death toll as a result of the coup attempt stood at over 250 people, and more than 2,000 people were wounded.

'Turkey, in its history, has been very open so that's one of the things that's really troubling about this, ' Brownback said.

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