United States pastor in Turkey on trial for terror ties

Turkey expects 40 million tourists from abroad in 2018

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

His comments came in response to a reporter's question about an earlier comment from French President Emmanuel Macron, who said Turkey's support for US -led strikes against Syria showed it had "separated" from Russian Federation. His wife was in the courtroom, as were North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis and the US envoy for religious freedom, Sam Brownback.

The relationship between the United States and Turkey is likely to come under pressure as long as a USA pastor remains in jail, a US official responsible for global religious freedom said on Monday.

"There is evidence that shows Brunson was arrested due to his faith", Ismail Cem Halavurt told Reuters on the eve of the trial, saying Brunson's religious role had been "classified as aiding terror organisations".

"Give him (Gulen) to us, and we will try (Brunson) and return him", Erdogan said a year ago.

Prosecutors are seeking 15 years in prison against the pastor for alleged crimes committed in the name of Gulen's group and the PKK, and a further 20 years for allegedly obtaining state secrets for political and military spying purposes using his religious work as cover.

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Gulen denies any association with the coup bid.

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

"We do not have a united policy with the United States on the YPG issue, and Turkey's stance has not changed".

Halavurt claimed he believed Brunson would ultimately be acquitted, and there was no reason behind his continuing detention during trial.

Furnari said she isn't sure why her father was arrested. He signed it off: "Your brother Andrew, imprisoned for God".

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