Turkey says not siding with anyone on Syria

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Turkey says not siding with anyone on Syria

At the Resurrection Church in Izmir, the congregation prayed on Sunday for Brunson, and his wife Norine read out a message in which he talked of the darkness and silence of his detention.

Andrew Brunson, of Black Mountain, N.C., has spent 23 years living in Turkey with his wife, daughter and two sons.

The 50-year-old evangelical pastor from North Carolina was arrested in December 2016 for alleged links to both an outlawed Kurdish insurgent group and the network of the USA -based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen. The prosecution is seeking a jail sentence of up to 35 years.

Monday's court session will be attended by North Carolina senator Thom Tillis and US envoy for religious freedom Sam Brownback.

Mr Brunson's lawyer, Cem Halavurt has called the charges "totally unfounded", saying they are based on testimony from secret informants.

Turkey has designated both Mr Gulen's network and the PKK as terror groups, and accused My Gulen of fomenting an attempted military coup in the country in 2016, in which at least 250 people died. Gulen has denied any link to the coup attempt in which more than 240 people were killed.

A US pastor began trial in Turkey Monday on charges he aided in the military coup attempt almost two years ago.

"Turkey's Syria policy isn't to stand with or against any country".

Bozdag's comments follow tension between Ankara and Paris after Macron offered to mediate between Turkey and outlawed Kurdish militants, an offer furiously rejected by Erdogan.

Jacqueline Furnari, Brunson's daughter, told NBC News her father has been pulled into a "political game between Turkey and the U.S".

"I'm still waiting for my dad to walk me down the aisle, and I'm still waiting for that father-daughter dance", she said.

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