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Turkey says not siding with anyone on Syria

Turkey says not siding with anyone on Syria

Washington has demanded his release.

Turkey has also been at loggerheads with Washington over USA support for the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, which Ankara considers a terrorist organisation linked to Kurdish militants waging a decades-long insurgency in Turkish soil.

Andrew Brunson, a United States pastor held for more than a year in Turkey, goes on trial on Monday on charges of aiding terror groups in a case that has raised tensions between Washington and Ankara. His wife was in the courtroom, as were North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis and USA envoy for religious freedom Sam Brownback.

The relationship between the United States and Turkey is likely to come under pressure as long as a USA pastor remains in jail, a US official responsible for global religious freedom said on Monday.

"The (pastor) we have is on trial".




"You give him to us and we'll give you this one", he said, referring to Brunson.

Ismail Cem Halavurt stated Andrew Brunson, detained faced the &ldquordquo; control of aiding a terrorist association and should really be freed at rsquo & Monday. Gulen has denied any link to the coup attempt in which more than 240 people were killed. The prosecution is trying to find a jail sentence of upto 35 decades.

Brunson has been the pastor of Izmir Resurrection Church, serving a small Protestant congregation in Turkey's third largest city.

The indictment - based on the testimonies of witnesses, including three secret ones, and alleged digital evidence - claims the pastor worked to convert Kurds to Christianity to sow discord.

A copy of Brunson's indictment seen by Reuters accuses him of working both with Gulen's network and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group which has waged an insurgency in mainly Kurdish southeast Turkey and is designated a terrorist group by the United States and European Union. "Our prior expectation from the hearing is ending the arrest", he said. He signed it off: "Your brother Andrew, imprisoned for God".