A Turkish prosecutor demanded on March 13 life imprisonment for detained American pastor Andrew Brunson over alleged links to the July 2016 coup attempt, Doğan News Agency has reported.
The prosecutor in the Aegean province of İzmir has charged Brunson with being a “member and executive of the terrorist group” accused of being behind the coup attempt.
Turkey blames the network of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen for the attempted coup.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last month called for Brunson’s release during a visit to Turkey.
“We continue to have serious concerns … about cases against U.S. citizens who have been arrested under the state of emergency,” Tillerson said, referring to the emergency rule that has been in place since July 2016.
“We call upon Turkey to release Pastor Andrew Brunson and other U.S. citizens whom we believe are being unjustly detained.”
Washington and Ankara have been at odds over a number of issues, including U.S. support for the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara views as a terrorist group linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and Turkey’s demand for the extradition of Gülen.
Following Tillerson’s visit to Ankara last month, the two countries formed joint working groups to fix their relations.