A Turkish court has accepted an indictment that seeks 35 years in prison for American Pastor Andrew Brunson, who was arrested in December 2016 on allegedly false charges of espionage and terrorism, according to a report.
The Second High Penal Court in the Aegean province of Izmir has accepted the indictment written by the Public Prosecutor’s Office, which demands up to 15 years in prison for crimes in the name of the Gulen movement and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, and up to 20 years for obtaining state secrets for political or military espionage, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.
The government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan holds the banned group responsible for the failed coup against state institutions in July 2016.
Pastor Brunson, a North Carolina native who has led a small congregation in Izmir for the past two decades, has denied the charges.
Based off testimony from a secret witness who has not been revealed, Brunson was accused of obtaining secret documents related to the goal of espionage and overthrowing the government.
Rights advocates believe that Brunson was arrested in an attempt to force the U.S. government to extradite Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, who resides in Pennsylvania.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom earlier this month condemned the charges against Brunson.
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Source: Christian Post