I would prefer that Gülen was extradited to Turkey: US pastor Brunson
Cansu Çamlıbel - WASHINGTON
Andrew Brunson, a U.S. pastor who was at the heart of a diplomatic crisis between Turkey and the U.S., has said he would prefer that Fetullah Gülen, who resides in the U.S. and is accused by Turkey of having masterminded the failed coup attempt in 2016, was extradited to Turkey.
“If it was up to me, send him to Turkey,” the U.S. pastor told daily Hürriyet.
The pastor said he was in the opinion that the U.S. would not barter him with Gülen or Hakan Atilla, the former deputy chair of the state-owned Halkbank convicted by a New York court for evading U.S. sanctions against Iran.
Brunson noted that Senator Lindsey Graham visited him at the prison and said he conveyed a message from the U.S. President Donald Trump that the U.S. aims to bring the pastor back to his country in a more appropriate way than a barter.
“We want to get you back to America, but we have to go the right way. No barter for you. If we do something like this, it would be a bad precedent and Americans around the world would be at risk. Any regime can refer to this method to get us done,” Brunson quoted the senator as saying.
Asked about a telephone message mentioned in the indictment against him linking it to the failed coup attempt of 2016, determined by the Turkish authorities, in which Brunson said, “We were expecting something that will shake Turks,” the pastor said, adding that he was referring to “God’s will” that will shake its people that fall apart from “spiritual things.”
“We were expecting such things. I used to say that in my sermons. God allows the foundations we rely on to be shaken, so let’s look at him. It could be stock market, or political turbulence. We people are relaxed. But whenever the stock market falls and face economic crisis, we start to pray. That was what was telling for Turkey,” he said.
Brunson said he was not regretful of going to Turkey. “The god let him be in the prison because the god wanted millions will pray for Turkey.”
“To me, the God will use my pain in favor of Turkey, will use for Turkey’s blessing. I want that the God will use President [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan. He is Turkey’s leader even if some like him or not. Shall the God use him to bless Turkey, bring wisdom and justice,” he stated.
Brunson was sentenced to more than three years in jail over terrorism and spying charges on Oct. 12. But he was able to return home after the court decided to lift his house arrest and travel ban.
He was released due to time spent behind bars and under house arrest, two years and three months.