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The Brunson case has further hiked tensions between North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies Turkey and the United States, with US President Donald Trump raising the issue in talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Andrew Brunson, an evangelical pastor from North Carolina, has been detained by Turkish authorities since October 2016.

US envoy for religious freedom Sam Brownback talks to media outside the Aliaga Prison and Courthouse complex in Izmir, Turkey April 16, 2018.

Brunson was arrested in December 2016 for alleged links to both an outlawed Kurdish insurgent group and the network of the US -based Muslim cleric who Turkey blames for a masterminding a failed military coup that year.

He described how the case could take two eyars or more, according to Brunson's lawyer but that there was some sign of light: "There are some hopes that he may be released - there was a slightly similar case of a German-Turkish journalist who had been in prison for more than a year and when his court case started he was released". Washington has demanded his launch.

The Izmir prosecutor's indictment against Brunson claims he was in contact with top-level executives of Gulen's network and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK.

The administration of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has long portrayed former imam Fethullah Gulen as the sinister mastermind who orchestrated last year's failed coup attempt from his home in Pennsylvania. Pastor Andrew is on trial because of his Christian faith.

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The Turkish authorities accuse the leader of the Hizmet (FETO) movement, Fethullah Gulen, who resides in the U.S., of being involved in an attempted military coup, and demand the United States to extradite him. "There is no change to the policy Turkey has been carrying out", Mr Bozdag told reporters.

Bozdağ added that Turkey's "Euphrates Shield" and "Olive Branch" operations in Syria struck down all attempts to divide Turkey and ensured the country's defense and border security. "Then we will try him (Brunson) and give him to you".

The Turkish government has clearly linked Brunson's case with its determination to force the U.S.to extradite Gulen — and some see the pastor as a diplomatic pawn.

A declaration a year ago gave Erdogan the power to offer foreigners in exchange for Turkish prisoners jailed overseas.

US relations with Turkey have worsened recently over a number of issues.

A senior USA official told NBC News, "We are following this case closely, and since his arrest, we have visited Mr. Brunson regularly".


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