Who is Andrew Brunson, The Pastor Prompting Sanctions Threats Against Turkey?


Andrew Brunson, an American pastor who has been in Turkish custody for nearly two years, will be put under house arrest as his trial continues.

Pence warned that if Turkey does not take immediate action to free Brunson, "the United States of America will impose severe economic sanctions on Turkey".

Brunson, 50, an evangelical Christian pastor originally from North Carolina, was let out of jail on Wednesday, after more than a year, to serve house arrest because of 'health problems, ' according to Turkey's official Anadolu news agency.

"The Turkish government has deprived this innocent man of his due process rights and liberty for too long, and it must completely release him", said Kristina Arriaga, USCIRF's vice chairman. One of Brunson's attorneys is Jay Sekulow, who also represents Trump in the Russian Federation investigation.

Trump tweeted Thursday that he'd hit Turkey with "large" penalties for detaining Andrew Brunson, a Christian pastor who has been imprisoned in the country over charges of espionage and terrorism.

Brunson's detention deepened a rift between North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies Washington and Ankara - also at odds over the Syrian war and Turkey's plan to buy missile defences from Russian Federation - and financial markets took his transfer order as a positive sign.

Lawmakers have also called on Turkey to release Brunson, and the final version of Congress's fiscal 2019 defense bill included a provision demanding Turkey "to release wrongfully detained US citizens including Andrew Brunson and Serkan Golge", a scientist imprisoned in Turkey.

Turkish court rules that US pastor move from jail to house arrest

Brunson is one of tens of thousands of people detained on similar charges during the state of emergency declared by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the wake of the 2016 failed coup bid.

If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison for "committing crimes on behalf of terror groups without being a member" and an additional 20 years for "espionage".

Gulen, who denies orchestrating the coup attempt, lives in Pennsylvania. The Turkish government accused him of not only being involved in the coup, but of colluding with Kurdish militants.

The Trump administration escalated the pressure campaign to free Andrew Brunson a day after a court ordered that he be moved to house arrest after 21 months in detention.

NBC spoke with Brunson's lawyer, Ismail Cem Halavurt, who says Brunson is not allowed to leave his house under any condition other than to go to interviews or court hearings. Sam Brownback, ambassador-at-large for global religious freedom, referenced Brunson during his opening remarks on Tuesday. The case was adjourned until October 12.

"I believe in and support Turkey's territorial integrity", he told the court.

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