Turkish prosecutor calls for end of house arrest for US pastor, seeks 10-year jail term

In this undated file photo made available by the Dogan News Agency on March 13, 2018 Andrew Brunson, a US pastor, is photographed in Izmir. — AFP pic
In this undated file photo made available by the Dogan News Agency on March 13, 2018 Andrew Brunson, a US pastor, is photographed in Izmir. — AFP pic

ALIAGA, Oct 12 — A Turkish prosecutor called for a jail sentence of 10 years for a US Christian pastor today, and also asked the court to lift judicial controls, a move that would allow Andrew Brunson to leave the country immediately.

The case against Brunson, an evangelical preacher from North Carolina who has lived in Turkey for more than 20 years and was arrested two years ago, has led to US tariffs against Turkey and drawn condemnation from President Donald Trump.

The pastor is charged with links to Kurdish militants and supporters of Fethullah Gulen, the cleric blamed by Turkey for a failed coup attempt in 2016. Brunson has denied the accusation and Washington has demanded his immediate release.

The prosecutor asked the court for a 10-year jail sentence for Brunson, while also calling for the lifting of judicial control provisions — ending Brunson’s house arrest and allowing him to travel outside of Turkey.

Earlier, witnesses told the court that testimonies attributed to them against the pastor were inaccurate, heightening expectations that Brunson could be released and returned to the United States.

Brunson appeared in the courtroom in the western coastal town of Aliaga wearing a black suit, white shirt and red tie. His wife Norine looked on from the visitors’ seating area as he listened to testimony from defence and prosecution witnesses.

“I do not understand how this is related to me,” Brunson said after the judge questioned one of a series of witnesses. He said the judge was asking the witness about incidents Brunson was not involved in.

The lira firmed to 5.86 against the dollar on Friday, supported by expectations that he will be released.

US broadcaster NBC media on Thursday said a secret deal between Washington and Ankara had been reached to secure Brunson’s release. Reuters could not independently verify the report and the US State Department said it was not aware of such a deal. — Reuters

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