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Trial begins for American pastor accused of terrorism in Turkey

For 23 years, North Carolina native Andrew Brunson served as pastor to a small Presbyterian church in Turkey. Now he is facing numerous charges against him by the Turkish government, including accusations of espionage.
Brunson was detained on suspicion of an immigration violation 18 months ago, as part of a wave of arrests launched by the Turkish government following a failed coup attempt in 2016. The pastor’s first court appearance was Monday, where he pleaded his innocence of ramped-up charges including links to a terrorist organization.
At the hearing, Brunson said, “I am a Christian pastor. I did not join an Islamic movement. Their aims and mine are different.” He added: “I have been praying for Turkey for 25 years. I wouldn’t do anything against Turkey.”
Supporters of Brunson say the Turkish government manufactured the charges against the pastor in order to trade him, seeking to coerce the United States into extraditing an

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