In this file photo taken on July 25, 2018 (FILES) In this file photograph taken on July 25, 2018, US pastor Andrew Craig Brunson is escorted by Turkish plain clothes police officers to his house in Izmir. AFP
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When Andrew Brunson saw police summons on his door in late summer 2016, the U.S. evangelical pastor thought it was a routine appointment to sort out his residency papers in Turkey, his home for nearly a quarter of a century.U.S. President Donald Trump has demanded Brunson's unconditional release, describing him as a "great patriot hostage," and has slapped sanctions and tariffs on Turkey that have helped push the lira currency to record lows.Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has linked Brunson's release to the fate of Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish Muslim preacher living in the U.S. whom he blames for the July 2016 coup attempt.Turkish courts have rejected several appeals for Brunson to be freed and allowed to leave Turkey.Brunson has denied all the charges against him.The prosecution said in its indictment that Brunson's phone records and witness testimony did establish the connections.Brunson did not deny sending the message but said it had been misunderstood, the indictment said.Turkey's government says it was also unaware of Brunson until his case was raised by the U.S. Consulate.Trump thought he and his Turkish counterpart had agreed a deal to release the U.S. pastor, according to two U.S. sources.
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