The trial of American pastor Andrew Craig Brunson held on charges of espionage and aiding the PKK and Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) was postponed Monday to a new hearing on July 18 with a court ruling to keep the suspect in jail.
A witness testifying anonymously against the U.S. pastor accused of spying and terror-related charges claimed that the American helped PKK terrorists and aimed to create a Christian Kurdish state, Anadolu Agency reported.
Brunson rejected the claim in the second session of his trial, insisting that he never permitted "politics to enter the church."
"I am helping Syrian refugees, they say that I am aiding the PKK. I am setting up a church, they say I got help from Gülen's network," Brunson said, referring to the testimonies of anonymous witnesses in court.
The 50-year-old evangelical pastor from Black Mountain, North Carolina, faces up to 35 years in prison in Turkey on charges of "committing crimes on behalf of terror groups without being a member" and "espionage."
The case of Brunson, who was a pastor at the Diriliş (Resurrection) Protestant church in Izmir, is a thorny issue between Ankara and Washington. Washington has repeatedly called for the release of Brunson, claiming he was "unjustly detained."
The Turkish government has repeatedly told Washington that Brunson's case is being handled by the courts and the government cannot intervene.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, who is expected to meet with U.S. counterpart Mike Pompeo in Washington this week or next, said on Saturday any decision was up to the court.
"They say that the government should release him," he said. "Is it in my power? This is a decision the judiciary will make."
Brunson was arrested after a secret witness in a criminal probe into FETÖ testified against him while authorities were preparing to deport Brunson and his wife Norine Lyn for "involvement in actions threatening national security."
The FETÖ's coup attempt in 2016 was quelled thanks to a strong public resistance. Thousands of people, from military officers who opened fire on unarmed crowds rallying against the coup to "civilian" point men of the terrorist group, were arrested or detained under a state of emergency.
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