Turkish court seeks up to 35 years in jail for US pastor Andrew Brunson over terror charges
A Turkish court has accepted an indictment of up to 35 years in prison for American Pastor Andrew Craig Brunson over charges of “committing crimes on behalf of terrorist organizations,” state-run Anadolu Agency has reported.
The indictment prepared by the Public Prosecutor’s Office in the Aegean province of İzmir following a one-and-half-year-long investigation was accepted by the Second High Penal Court in the province on March 16.
Earlier reports on March 13 had said a life sentence was sought for the United States pastor, which was later denied by the prosecutor’s office.
Brunson was arrested in İzmir on Dec. 9, 2016 over the accusation of committing crimes on behalf of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), widely believed to have been behind the failed coup in July 2016.
Prosecutors demanded 15 years of imprisonment for “committing crimes on behalf of terror organizations without being a member,” while up to 20 years were sought for “political or military espionage,” state-run Anadolu Agency said.
Brunson is accused of carrying out espionage and organizational activities across Turkey under the guise of missionary operations, being linked to FETÖ and PKK members and interfering into Turkey’s internal affairs.
The indictment said Brunson was allegedly involved in converting Kurds to Christianity and aiming to establish a Kurdish state for them.
“It was understood that some of the churches’ executives and priests were trying to take root in our country by establishing associations under the guise of a missionary operation. [They were] aiming to divide our country into a few pieces and give a small part to the administration of the FETÖ terror group,” said the indictment.