ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — A court in western Turkey on Wednesday again denied a request for the release from custody of a U.S.-based pastor who is on trial on charges of aiding terror groups and engaging espionage.
Andrew Craig Brunson, a 50-year-old evangelical pastor from Black Mountain, North Carolina, was arrested in the aftermath of a 2016 coup attempt for alleged links to outlawed Kurdish rebels, as well as a network led by U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey blames for the unrest.
Brunson, who faces up to 35 years in prison, strongly denies the charges.
At the end of the third hearing, the court in the town of Aliaga rejected Brunson’s lawyer’s request that he be freed pending the outcome of the trial. The case was adjourned until Oct. 12.
Brunson’s case has added to already strained Turkish-US relations, with some U.S. politicians calling for sanctions against Turkey if Brunson is not released.
U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted in Brunson’s defense earlier in the year, saying: “They call him a Spy, but I am more a Spy than he is.”
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