The government of Turkey is thinking about accelerating the trial of an American pastor who is currently jailed in the country over terror charges after a post-coup crackdown in July, according to Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim.
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Last week, Prime Minister Yildirim spoke to American journalists who visited Ankara on how the government is deciding on speeding up the trial for Pastor Andrew Brunson, who was detained in October after being accused of threatening national security. However, Yildirim said they do not have direct control over the case, USA Today relays.
"What we can do at this stage is accelerate the trial" for Brunson, said Prime Minister Yildirim, according to the publication. "As you will appreciate, judiciary matters are not directly controlled by us."
Yildirim also conveyed his frustration over the failure of the United States to extradite Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who has been accused of being the mastermind of the failed coup in Turkey. However, Gulen said he had nothing to do with the coup.
"I'm not establishing a connection between the two cases, but such an incident of a large scale was not taken seriously by the Obama administration," the Turkish prime minister said through a translator. "They stalled for time, yet we had hundreds killed and thousands injured" in the uprising.
Meanwhile, American Center for Law and Justice lawyer CeCe Heil said Turkey has not produced evidence to support the terror charges against Pastor Brunson. Heil conveyed concern over the possibility of Brunson being held as a hostage in exchange for Gulen, but Yildirim said the two cases are separate.
Last month, Heil told The Christian Post that the only thing they can connect to Brunson's imprisonment is the failed coup in July, which prompted the need to round up all individuals considered to be a threat to national security. ACLJ said the Turkish government has refused to explain why the pastor was jailed even though he served the country for 23 years.
Because of the situation, Brunson's daughter Jacqueline had to push back her wedding. Heil said Brunson's family is "shocked and confused" because they do not know the real reason why the pastor is being held in Turkey without sufficient evidence.