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Dec 10 2018

Gülen ought to be extradited to Turkey, says U.S. pastor Brunson

 

A U.S. pastor who was detained in Turkey for two years on terror charges and was at the heart of a diplomatic crisis between Washington and Ankara, has said he would prefer that Fethullah Gülen, who is accused by the Turkish government of masterminding the July 2016 coup attempt, was extradited to Turkey, pro-government Hürriyet newspaper reported.

“If it was up to me, send him to Turkey,” Andrew Brunson told the newspaper.

Brunson, incarcerated in Oct. 2016 on terrorism charges including membership in a religious movement headed by Gülen, considered a terrorist organisation by Ankara, was released in October of this year following repeated calls for his freedom by the U.S. administration. 

The pastor said he was in the opinion that the U.S. would not barter him with Gülen or Hakan Atilla, the former executive of the state-owned Halkbank convicted by a New York court for evading sanctions on Iran.

Following the July 2016 coup attempt, Ankara called on Washington to hand over Gülen with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan suggesting exchanging the U.S.-based cleric for Brunson.

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham visited Brunson in prison, conveying a message from the U.S. President Donald Trump that the U.S. aims to bring the pastor back to his country in a more suitable way than a barter, Brunson told Hürriyet.

“We want to get you back to America, but we have to go the right way. No barter for you. If we do something like this, it would be a bad precedent and Americans around the world would be at risk. Any regime can refer to this method to get us done,” Graham told Brunson.

Noting that he does not regret having lived in Turkey, Brunson said, “To me, the God will use my pain in favor of Turkey, will use for Turkey’s blessing. I want that the God will use President [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan. He is Turkey’s leader even if some like him or not. Shall the God use him to bless Turkey, bring wisdom and justice.”

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