Turkey distances itself from Iran, Russia and United States on Syria

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The prosecution is seeking a jail sentence of up to 35 years. "I want truth to come out", Brunson told the court in the western Turkish town of Aliaga, north of the Aegean city of Izmir.

Brunson has served as the pastor of Izmir Resurrection Church with a small Protestant congregation.

"I do not accept the charges mentioned in the indictment". North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis and Sam Brownback, U.S. ambassador-at-large for religious freedoms were observing the trial, Turkey's private Dogan news agency reported.

"Until now, has the policy put forward by Turkey changed?"

The relationship between the United States and Turkey is likely to come under pressure as long as a USA pastor remains in jail, a US official responsible for global religious freedom said on Monday.

He was arrested in the aftermath of a failed military coup in 2016, for alleged links to both the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, and a network led by USA -based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is blamed by Turkey for the coup attempt. Gulen has denied any link to the coup attempt in which more than 240 people were killed. Turkey is a majority Muslim country though constitutionally secular.

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"There's signs which exhibits Brunson was detained due for his own beliefs", Halavurt advised Reuters on the eve of this trial, saying Brunson's non secular role had been "classified as aiding terror organizations".

"We think we can debunk these claims tomorrow", Brunson's lawyer said.

The indictment says the charges are based on evidence obtained from Brunson's phone, as well as information from witnesses.

"We do not have a united policy with the United States on the YPG issue, and Turkey's stance has not changed".

Halavurt said he believed Brunson would ultimately be acquitted, and there was no reason for his continued detention during trial. "Our expectation in your listening to is ending the arrest", he explained.

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