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Trump calls for Turkey to release USA pastor accused of spying

21 July 2018

"He has done nothing wrong, and his family needs him!" he added. This could be extended twice if there was difficulty in collecting evidence or if the case was deemed to be particularly voluminous. His first hearing took place on April 16 and his second hearing took place on May 7. A court in western Turkey again denied his request for his release from custody and the case was adjourned until October 12, 2018. USCIRF Vice Chair Kristina Arriaga attended today's hearing in Aliaga, Turkey.

A court in Turkey has handed down aggravated life sentences to more than two dozen people on charges of involvement in the failed July 2016 coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which the Ankara government accuses to have been masterminded by US-based opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen. "None of the witnesses ever heard from me the slightest word of support for the PKK", he added.

High-level US officials, including President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, have called for Pastor Brunson's release.

Evidence in court was provided by two people who have not been named.

"It's an utter judicial shame", he told reporters.

Turkey lifted a controversial state of emergency on Thursday that has given security services increased powers of arrest and detention for the past two years.

Turkey's state of emergency, imposed after the failed 2016 coup, is set to end - but the opposition fears it will be replaced by legislative measures that are even more repressive.

Under the state of emergency in the past year, Turkey has purged over 100,000 civil servants and ordered the closure of hundreds of media outlets, NGOs, cultural centers, private schools, and hospitals over allegations of having ties to "terrorist" groups the government claims are detrimental to national security.

Turkey's lira weakened against the dollar immediately after the ruling, reflecting investor worries about tensions with the United States.

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.

"@RT_Erdogan should do something to free this wonderful Christian husband & father".

Despite the tensions, Erdogan and Trump maintain cordial personal relations, with USA channel CBS reporting that the two "fist-bumped" at last week's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels with the American president praising his Turkish counterpart for doing things "the right way".

The July 18 decision marks the third time the Turkish court refuses to liberate Brunson, the Agence France-Presse (AFP) agency notes. The content of the talks was not disclosed.

President Trump has called for Brunson's release several times, tweeting the pastor should "be allowed to come home to his lovely family where he belongs".

"They call him a Spy, but I am more a Spy than he is", Trump wrote. "Hopefully he will be allowed to come home to his lovely family where he belongs!"

Trump calls for Turkey to release USA pastor accused of spying