American Pastor Back in Court for Spying and Terror Trial

BREAKING White House Reaches Deal With Turkey to Free Jailed US Pastor Andrew Brunson  image Getty Center for Law and Justice

BREAKING White House Reaches Deal With Turkey to Free Jailed US Pastor Andrew Brunson image Getty Center for Law and Justice

An earlier charge of espionage was dropped.

Brunson, whose detention sparked a diplomatic dispute between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies, had rejected the espionage and terror-related charges and strongly maintained his innocence.

NBC cited sources as saying that under an agreement USA officials reached recently with Turkey, Brunson would be released after certain charges against him were dropped at his next court hearing. "I love Jesus. I love Turkey", Brunson told the court Friday, speaking in Turkish.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council and a member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, visited with Brunson and his wife, Norine Brunson, the day before the trial.

Trump tweets he authorised a doubling of duties on aluminium and steel imported from Turkey. Washington called for Brunson's release and taken a series of punitive measures against Turkey over the continued detainment of the evangelical Christian pastor. "And may God protect and give peace to our other brothers and sisters in Christ who continue to endure hardships and severe persecution around the world due to their faith in Him".

It could also benefit Turkey, allowing the government to focus on an escalating diplomatic crisis over Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi contributor to The Washington Post who went missing more than a week ago and is feared dead after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Turkish officials claim the writer may have been killed inside the Saudi diplomatic mission and Turkish newspapers have released pictures of alleged Saudi agents flown in to allegedly handle the killing.

New prosecution witnesses are expected to testify on Friday.

"It is with great regret that we have been monitoring USA efforts to mount pressure on Turkey's independent court system for some time", Fahrettin Altun, the presidency's communications director, said.

Rumours of a potential deal had circulated after NBC cited sources which said that the United States would remove sanctions in exchange for certain charges being dropped against Brunson.

His case had created a deep rift in U.S.

Brunson is in court today where he faces charges related to terrorism - following the failed coup attempt on Turkish President Erdogan in 2016.

The PKK - a Turkish-Kurdish rebel group fighting for autonomy since the 1980s - is considered a terrorist group by Turkey and the US.

But at the hearing, a witness told the court Kalkan was the source of those accusations.

Witnesses said Mr Brunson wept as the decision was announced.

He was put on trial for the crime of "Christianization", with a Turkish judge attempting to link the North Carolina pastor to a political movement launched by Muslim Muhammed Fethullah Gülen and accusing him of helping members of the Kurdish Workers' Party escape the country.

"We helped everyone, Kurds, Arabs, without showing any discrimination", he said.

If the court lifts Brunson's house arrest order on Friday and doesn't impose a new travel ban, he will be free to leave the country.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had resisted U.S. demands for Brunson's release, insisting that the courts are independent.

"We see this as a possible face-saving way for Erdogan to agree to Brunson's release", the Eurasia Group said last week.

Brunson led a small congregation in the Izmir Resurrection Church.

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