Court says Brunson aided several terrorist organizations

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American Pastor Andrew Craig Brunson (C), who was charged with committing crimes, including spying for the PKK terror group and the Gülen movement, arrives at the address, which he was put under house arrest due to his health problems, in Izmir, Turkey on July 25, 2018. Evren Atalay / Anadolu Agency

A Turkish court that handed down a prison sentence of three years, one-and-a-half months to an American pastor has said in its reasoned opinion that the pastor aided several terrorist organizations such as the Gülen movement, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the People’s Protection Units (YPG).

Pastor Andrew Brunson had been detained in Turkey on terrorism charges for almost two years and was later put under house arrest. On Oct. 12 the İzmir 2nd High Criminal Court sentenced him to three years, one-and-a-half months but released him for time served.

In the 124-page-long reasoned opinion, the court says Brunson acted based on the “win-win” principle, collaborated with “Fetö,” a term coined by the Turkish government to refer to the Gülen movement as a terrorist organization, got assistance from the group and aided the group although he was not part of its hierarchy. In the reasoned opinion, Brunson is also accused of aiding the PKK and the YPG and imposing the views of these groups on churchgoers.

The court also said Brunson was in contact with Gülen movement followers and that a message he wrote on July 21, 2016, several days after a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016, saying, “For a while, we were expecting developments that would shake Turks,” as well as his views about the coup attempt were in line with those of the Gülen movement.

The court said Brunson’s remark about the establishment of a one-man regime in Turkey following the coup attempt was unacceptable.

The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding a the failed coup attempt and labels it a “terrorist organization,” although the movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

The arrest of Brunson in Turkey strained relations between Turkey and the US, prompting the latter to impose a series of sanctions against Turkey.

Brunson returned to the US immediately after his release from house arrest.

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