A court in Turkey has ordered the detention of an American pastor identified as Andrew Brunson for charges bordering on spying and terrorism.
Brunson, a Christian pastor from North Carolina who has lived in Turkey for more than two decades now faces up to 35 years in jail if found guilty.
“It is really hard to stay in jail and be separated from my wife and children,” Brunson, wearing a black suit and a white shirt, told the court in Turkish.
“There is no concrete evidence against me. The disciples of Jesus suffered in his name, now it is my turn. I am an innocent man on all these charges. I reject them. I know why I am here. I am here to suffer in Jesus’s name.”
The clergy who denies the charges, was indicted for helping the group that Ankara blames for a failed 2016 coup against President Tayyip Erdogan, as well as supporting outlawed PKK Kurdish militants.
U.S. President Donald Trump late on Wednesday said in a tweet that Erdogan “should do something to free this wonderful Christian husband & father,” saying that Brunson has “been held hostage far too long.”
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