It has been close to one year since Andrew Brunson an American pastor was detained in Turkey. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogam has said that if the U.S. has a desire to have Brunson released, extraditing to Turkey a Turkish cleric who lives in the United States., and who has been accused by Erdogan of organizing a failed coup last year would help.
On Thursday, while speaking at one of Turkey’s police academies, Erdogan said that the U.S. has a pastor as well and if the U.S. were to give the cleric to them, they would work with the judiciary in the country to give back your pastor.
Erdogan has continued to voice his frustration with the demands by the U.S. to give more evidence that points to the involvement Fethullah Gulen in last year’s coup attempt.
The White House administration has called the Brunson case a priority. Vice President Mike Pence wrote to the pastor’s family, while Rex Tillerson the secretary of state met with Norine, the wife of Brunson last March in Ankara. Tillerson discussed Brunson’s case with Mevlut Cavusoglu the Foreign Minister of Turkey as well.
Brunson, who is 48, is from North Carolina and an evangelical Presbyterian, who has been living in Turkey over two decades.
Last October he was detained in a crackdown following an attempt by a military faction to have Erdogan overthrown and since that time Turkey has leveled accusations of spying against him and of being involved with a terrorist group.
A month ago, Brunson was charged with spying and with attempting the overthrown of the Turkish government.
Gulen lives in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania which is in the Poconos. He, who is believed to have supporters in the millions living in Turkey, steadfastly denies involvement in the attempted coup.
However, Turkey has demanded he be extradited from the United States where he has resided since the 1990s.
Gulen says that he continues to stand against coups. He added that if he were to have been called by anyone planning such a coup he would say to them they were committing murder.
He was asked about the attempt made by Turkey to have him extradited, and Gulen replied that he thinks the U.S. is mindful of the reputation it has for democracy and the rule of law.
If they want to risk a good reputation through extraditing him he would not say no and would willingly go.