US pastor Andrew Brunson’s trial resumes on Friday, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he has faith in the court's ruling.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Turkey is governed by the rule of law and court decisions are binding for everyone, referring to the case of US pastor Andrew Brunson.
Brunson was arrested in 2016 on charges of committing crimes on behalf of the PKK terror organisation and Fetullah Terrorist Organisation (FETO), the group behind the deadly coup attempt in July 2016 that claimed more than 250 lives and wounded nearly 2,000 people.
"I am not in a position to intervene with the judiciary since Turkey is a constitutional state," Erdogan told reporters onboard the presidential plane while returning to Turkey on Wednesday after a two-day trip to Hungary.
His remarks came just two days before the trial of Brunson resumes in the Aegean province of Izmir, where the evangelical pastor has remained under house arrest.
Brunson had spent more than a year in prison before a court placed him under house arrest for health reasons.
Relations between NATO allies Turkey and the US were already strained due to a number of reasons including Washington’s cooperation with PKK-affiliated YPG in Syria and the arrest and conviction of a Turkish banker in New York over breach of US sanctions on Iran.
However, the Brunson case deteriorated the relations to a completely new level with both countries imposing sanctions on each other.
Turkish prosecutors are demanding up to 35 years of imprisonment for Brunson including 15 years for committing crimes on behalf of terrorist organisations as a non-member, and up to 20 years for political or military espionage.
Brunson stands accused of carrying out these activities under the guise of conducting missionary work.
The indictment prepared by the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Izmir followed an investigation which took more than a year. It was accepted by the 2nd High Penal Court in the province last week.
Brunson allegedly had information about a possible coup attempt before the FETO-led putsch occurred in July 2016 since one of his mobile phone messages to a US soldier showed his support for the coup plotters, the indictment said.
He has denied any wrongdoing.