Trump calls on Erdoğan to release jailed American pastor Brunson

Trump calls on Erdoğan to release jailed American pastor Brunson

ISTANBUL
Trump calls on Erdoğan to release jailed American pastor Brunson

U.S. President Donald Trump on July 19 urged his Turkish opposite Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Twitter to help release an American pastor kept behind bars in Turkey since October 2016.

“A total disgrace that Turkey will not release a respected U.S. Pastor, Andrew Brunson, from prison. He has been held hostage far too long,” Trump said.

“[Turkish President] Recep Tayyip Erdoğan should do something to free this wonderful Christian husband & father. He has done nothing wrong, and his family needs him!” he added.

On July 18, a court in Turkey’s Aegean province of İzmir ruled that Brunson, an American pastor being tried on terrorism and spying charges, will be kept in jail pending trial.

The Second High Penal Court in İzmir decided to continue listening to the testimonies of witnesses in the next hearing on Oct. 12.

Brunson, a Christian pastor from North Carolina who has lived in Turkey for more than two decades, was indicted on charges of having links with the Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ), which Ankara blames for the failed 2016 coup attempt, as well the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Turkish court rules to keep American pastor Brunson in jail
Turkish court rules to keep American pastor Brunson in jail

He faces up to 35 years in prison if found guilty. Brunson denied the charges, calling them “shameful and disgusting.”

The U.S. Senate passed a bill last month including a measure that prohibits Turkey from buying F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets because of Brunson’s imprisonment and Turkey’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 air defense system.

The Turkish government says Brunson’s case will be decided by the courts. But Erdoğan has previously linked his fate to that of Fethullah Gülen, the U.S.-based Muslim cleric Turkey blames for the coup attempt and whose extradition Ankara seeks.

Andrew Brunson, Donald Trump, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan