Turkish forces guard the prison complex in Aliaga, Izmir province, where Brunson was appearing on trial.
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Turkey's arrests of an American pastor and other Western citizens have thrust its troubled judicial system to the forefront of ties with allies, reinforcing suspicions that the Turkish government is using detainees as diplomatic leverage.Turkey's top appeals court judge weighed in last week, saying only "independent" courts can free Andrew Brunson.Constitutional changes have since expanded Erdogan's control of judicial appointments, undermining Turkey's avowals that it wants to mold impartial courts.There is no evidence that jailed foreigners in Turkey were arrested to be used as "hostages," and Erdogan could genuinely believe they were acting on behalf of foreign governments against Turkey, said Nicholas Danforth, an analyst at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington.Turkey has also criticized the case against Mehmet Hakan Atilla, an official at Turkey's state-controlled Halkbank who was jailed in the U.S. for helping Iran avoid American sanctions.Turkey, meanwhile, has bemoaned a Greek court's decision to grant asylum to some servicemen who fled to Greece a day after Turkey's coup attempt.
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