Detained American pastor goes on trial in Turkey

Turkish stocks up nearly 1 percent at close

Conservative law group the American Center for Law and Justice has taken up Brunson's case at Capitol Hill, the White House, and the United Nations, arguing that the pastor is being targeted because of his Christian faith.

Pastor Andrew Brunson, 50, will stand before a court after being locked away and charged with espionage and "membership in an armed terroristic organization" among other things.

He's now charged with connections to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a Kurdish militant group which Turkey and the United States deem a terrorist organization, as well as links with the network of US -based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Ankara blames for carrying out the coup attempt. Washington has demanded his launch.

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

The administration of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has long portrayed former imam Fethullah Gulen as the sinister mastermind who orchestrated last year's failed coup attempt from his home in Pennsylvania.

Brunson, who moved to the country in 1993 and opened his Izmir church in 2010, added: 'I haven't done anything against Turkey.

Washington has known for Brunson's re lease though Erdogan suggested this past season his fate might possibly be associated with that of USA -based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whose extradition Ankara has sought to face charges within the coup endeavor.

Turkish stocks up nearly 1 percent at close
Detained American pastor goes on trial in Turkey

"They say "give us the pastor".

The American Center for Law and Justice, a conservative Christian group in the USA, has called Brunson a "hostage of the Turkish government".

An ACLJ petition calling for Pastor Brunson's release has almost half a million signatures.

"I have been praying for Turkey for 25 years", Brunson said. Both are designated terror groups in Turkey.

"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.

Brunson was jailed in October 2016 and only recently found out the full extent of the charges against him. 'We want Brunson to be freed immediately'. If anything, I think the information that has been presented today creates a more compelling reason why he is innocent, ' Tillis told reporters after the ruling.

The ACLJ called the decision "an escalation" and said it was "devastating" to Brunson and his family, some of whom were in court Monday - including his wife, Norine, who was initially imprisoned with him.

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