Turkey seeks life in prison for United States pastor

The Strange Tragic Story of Wrongly Imprisoned Pastor Andrew Brunson

Turkey seeks life in prison for United States pastor

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) strongly condemns a new indictment issued by Turkish prosecutors this week charging Pastor Andrew Brunson with "leadership in a terrorist organization" and seeking a possible life sentence in his case.

Washington believes Andrew Brunson, who has been in jail since December 2016, is one of several Americans unjustly detained in Turkey.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last month called for Brunson's release during a visit to Turkey.

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The prosecutor in the Aegean province of İzmir has charged Brunson with being a "member and executive of the terrorist group" accused of being behind the coup attempt.

The accusations were based on the testimony of a secret witness, who said Brunson was in close contact with Gulen's network and receiving funds from it for missionary activities.

Washington and Ankara have been at odds over a number of issues, including USA support for the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara views as a terrorist group linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), and Turkey's demand for the extradition of Gülen.

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Brunson, who has lived in Turkey for more than 20 years, was arrested soon after the July 2016 coup attempt.

On March 9, Pastor Brunson's daughter, Jacqueline, addressed the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, calling the allegations against her father "absurd" and noting that her family "has suffered greatly during the past year and half".

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