Canan Ozturk | Apr 5, 2019 | 0
Trial of American Pastor Resumes in Turkey #TurkeyUS
The trial of an American pastor accused by Turkish authorities of terrorism-related offenses is set to resume in a court in this port city on Wednesday, in a case that has become a flashpoint in the increasingly acrimonious relationship between the United States and Turkey.
Turkish authorities have kept the pastor, Andrew Brunson, from North Carolina, imprisoned for nearly two years on charges that include associating with the plotters of a failed coup and Kurdish militants. Brunson’s supporters and independent analysts have called the accusations baseless and say he is being used as a bargaining chip by Turkey to win concessions from the United States.
Brunson’s case is also testing President Trump’s preference for flattery over confrontation with some world leaders, at a moment when Trump is facing harsh criticism in the United States for praising Russian President Vladimir Putin during a summit between the two leaders in Helsinki.
Trump has maintained warm relations with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, even as ties between the two countries have become strained and as U.S. lawmakers have derided Erdogan as an increasingly unpredictable and autocratic ally and called for sanctions against Turkey.
But during the NATO summit in Brussels last week, Trump singled out Erdogan among other NATO leaders for praise, saying “he does things the right way,” according to a person who was present for the exchange.
The United States and Turkey have clashed over war strategy in Syria, Turkey’s plans to purchase a Russian missile defense system and the jailing of several American citizens in Turkey. Erdogan has also pressed the Trump administration to extradite Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric living in Pennsylvania. Turkish authorities accuse Gulen of orchestrating a failed coup in Turkey in July 2016. Gulen has denied any involvement.
Erdogan suggested in a speech last year that Gulen could be traded for Brunson, a Christian missionary who had lived in Turkey for decades before his arrest in October 2016. After Brunson’s first court hearing in April, Trump tweeted about the case, saying that the pastor was “on trial and being persecuted in Turkey for no reason.”
“They call him a Spy, but I am more a Spy than he is,” Trump wrote.
Published in https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/trial-of-american-pastor-resumes-in-turkey-testing-trumps-warm-ties-with-erdogan/2018/07/18/78ff690c-8a4d-11e8-8b20-60521f27434e_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.6c1260947234