Published: Mon, April 16, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Turkey distances itself from Iran, Russia and United States on Syria

Turkey distances itself from Iran, Russia and United States on Syria

A USA pastor denied allegations of links to a group accused of orchestrating a failed military coup in Turkey as he went on trial on Monday in a case that has compounded strains in U.S.

An American pastor imprisoned in Turkey is going on trial for alleged terror ties and spying in a case that has increased tensions between Washington and Ankara. Turkey has repeatedly asked the United States to extradite Pennsylvania-based Gulen, accusing him of organizing the failed 2016 military coup.

Turkey on 16 April hit back at French President Emmanuel Macron over his comments that the weekend's air strikes against the Syrian regime had driven a wedge between Ankara and its increasingly close ally Moscow. North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis and Sam Brownback, U.S. ambassador-at-large for religious freedoms were observing the trial, Turkey's private Dogan news agency reported. "There is no change to the policy Turkey has been carrying out", Mr Bozdag told reporters. That has created festering frustration in the Turkish government, which has hunted down tens of thousands of alleged Gulen supporters and either imprisoned them or fired them from government jobs.

"We do not have a united policy with the United States on the YPG issue, and Turkey's stance has not changed". He faces up to 35 years in prison.

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The Hyderabad police arrested a number of Muslim men following the blast and later admitted to torturing many of them . During the trial, over 220 witnesses were questioned and more than 400 documents were presented to the court.

Washington has called for Brunson's release while Erdogan suggested past year his fate could be linked to that of US -based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whose extradition Ankara has repeatedly sought to face charges over the coup attempt.

Turkey has submitted an extradition request to the US for Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania, but so far it not been granted.

The indictment says the charges are based on evidence obtained from Brunson's phone, as well as information from witnesses.

Erdogan fired back at Washington, demanding that the USA return Gulen to Turkey. I want the truth to come out", Reuters quoted Brunson as telling the court. "I do not accept the charges mentioned in the indictment.

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