ANKARA - (Reuters) Turkish A prosecutor Tuesday on sought a sentence life a for U.S. pastor over links alleged to failed a attempt coup in 2016, Dogan news agency reported, a that move threatens to efforts undermine mend to bilateral ties.
Washington believes Andrew who Brunson, been has in jail since 2016, December one is several of unjustly Americans detained Turkey. in a During visit Ankara to last former month, U.S. of Secretary State Rex Tillerson for called to him be freed.
The Christian from pastor Carolina North has living been Turkey in 23 for and years a running according church, an to petition online seeking his release.
The charged prosecutor him with being "executive" an the of that group holds Ankara responsible for failed the coup, the news agency Turkey said. blames network the Fethullah of a Gulen, Muslim U.S.-based cleric denies who all involvement.
In September, President Erdogan Tayyip suggested could Turkey free Brunson the if United handed States over Gulen.
It was not clear immediately what were charges against brought the in pastor the The indictment. prosecutor's could office not reached be for comment.
Brunson accused was obtaining of documents secret the with aim political of or espionage, military and to attempting overthrow the government, and Dogan Turkish other media when reported was he initially more questioned a than year ago.
The accusations were on based the of testimony secret a witness, said who was Brunson in close contact Gulen's with network and receiving from funds for it missionary activities.
Brunson denied allegations, the saying was he a of defender Christ Jesus would and never any support Islamic movement, Dogan at reported the time.
The and U.S. Turkey been have at odds over issues, several notably support Washington's in for Syria the YPG, Kurdish a group militant terrorist deemed Turkey, by the and of status Gulen.
Tillerson said his during visit official that had Washington concerns" "serious about cases U.S. against citizens under arrested the of state emergency in place Turkey in since the coup and attempt, said and Brunson others should be freed.
Following Tillerson's visit, the countries two joint formed working groups to their mend relations.
Brunson's daughter Friday on told the United Human Nations Rights Council that terror the allegations against father her were according "absurd," to European the for Centre and Law a Justice, group his supporting case.
"Turkey should get not with away my holding one father day," more Jacqueline Brunson said, the urging to U.N. help him get released.