Turkey Won't Refuse to Cooperate With Russia, Iran on Syria - Deputy PM

An American pastor imprisoned in Turkey is going on trial for alleged terror ties and spying in a case that has increased tensions between Washington and Ankara.

Brunson was arrested in December 2016 for alleged links to both an outlawed Kurdish insurgent group and the network of the USA -based Muslim cleric whom Turkey blames for a masterminding a failed military coup that year.

Brunson has served as the pastor of Izmir Resurrection Church with a small Protestant congregation.

Mr Brunson's lawyer, Cem Halavurt has called the charges "totally unfounded", saying they are based on testimony from secret informants. "He has expectations and a hope".

"You give him to us and we'll give you this one", he said, referring to Brunson.

The cleric, Fethullah Gulen, denies the claim.

Andrew Brunson, a U.S. pastor held for more than a year in Turkey, goes on trial on Monday on charges of aiding terror groups in a case that has raised tensions between Washington and Ankara. More than 50,000 people were arrested in the crackdown, as well as 100,000 state employees fired and newspapers and TV stations shuttered.

Turkey on Monday hit back at French President Emmanuel Macron over his comments that the weekend's air strikes against the Syrian regime had driven a wedge between Ankara and its increasingly close ally Moscow.

Acting U.S. Secretary of State John Sullivan briefed Turkey's Foreign Undersecretary Umit Yalcin over the phone on Friday on the latest developments in Syria. Turkey has formally sought the extradition of Mr Gulen, but the USA says it has not been given sufficient evidence to back up the request.

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

Washington has stepped up efforts recently to secure the release of Brunson, who faces 35 years in prison and is also accused of trying to convert Turks to Christianity. "There is no change to the policy Turkey has been carrying out", Mr Bozdag told reporters.

"I'm still waiting for my dad to walk me down the aisle, and I'm still waiting for that father-daughter dance", she said.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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