Pastor Andrew Brunson rejects terror charges as trial in Turkey begins
“I have never done anything against Turkey. I want the truth to come out”, Andrew Brunson told the court in Izmir on Monday. His lawyer says “there is evidence that shows Brunson was detained due to his faith”.
IZMIR · 16 APRIL 2018 · 17:13 CET
Pastor Andrew Brunson denied charges of aiding a terrorist organisation during his trial in Aliga, Izmir (Turkey) on April 16.
Brunson has served for more than 20 years in the Izmir Resurrection Church, a congregation in the third biggest city of Turkey. He was arrested in October 2016 and charged with terrorism.
On March 13, the prosecutor in the province of Izmir charged Brunson with being a “member and executive of the terrorist group” linked to the Fethullah Gülen movement.
Brunson’s wife, Norine; U.S. envoy for religious freedom, Sam Brownback; and Thom Tillis, Senator for north Carolina (US), were present in the courtroom during the hearing on Monday.
“I WANT THE TRUTH TO COME OUT”
“I have never done anything against Turkey. I love Turkey”, Andrew Brunson told the court,according to Turkish newspaper Hurriyet. “I have been praying for Turkey for 25 years. I want the truth to come out”, he added.
Brunson denied charges of being involved with terrorist groups: “I do not accept the charges mentioned in the indictment. I have never been involved in any illegal activities”, he said.
Prior to the hearing, Brunson’s lawyer Ismail Cem Halavurt said: “There is evidence that shows Brunson was detained due to his faith”. He added: “We want Brunson to be freed immediately”.
The government of the US has repeatedly called for Turkey to free the pastor. The case has tensed the relationship between the countries.