US priest Brunson faces life for FETÖ terrorist group membership

In an indictment prosecutors presented to the court, Brunson is accused of being a member of FETÖ, which is blamed for carrying out deadly coup attempt in July 15, 2016, through its infiltrators in the military, the Doğan News Agency reported.

A hearing will be set for Brunson if the court accepts the indictment.

The case of Brunson, who was a pastor at the Diriliş (Resurrection) Protestant church in Izmir, is a thorny issue between Ankara and Washington. Washington has repeatedly called for release of Brunson, claiming he was “unjustly detained.”

Departing U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was the last high-ranking U.S. official to demand his release during a visit to Turkey last month, disregarding judiciary independence. The Turkish government has repeatedly told Washington that Brunson’s case is being handled by the courts and the government can’t intervene.

FETÖ, led by Pennsylvania resident Fetullah Gülen, is implicated in a string of criminal inquiries, the most significant of which is trials related to the coup attempt that killed 249 people.

The United States did not respond positively to Turkey’s requests to extradite or arrest Gülen to prevent his escape to another country.

Brunson was arrested after a secret witness in a criminal probe into FETÖ testified against him while authorities were preparing to deport Brunson and his wife Norine Lyn for “involvement in actions threatening national security.”

The witness has detailed the pastor’s links to the terrorist group and his frequent contacts with Bekir Baz, a fugitive point man for FETÖ in the Aegean region where Izmir is located.

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