Detained US pastor denies Turkey coup links allegations as trial begins

US pastor Andrew Brunson on Monday denied allegations of links to a group accused of orchestrating a failed military coup in Turkey, as he went on trial in the western Turkish town of Aliaga, north of the Aegean city of Izmir. The Christian pastor from North Carolina, USA, who has been living in Turkey for 23 years, was indicted on charges of helping the group that Turkey holds responsible for the failed 2016 coup. “I’ve never done something against Turkey. I love Turkey. I’ve been praying for Turkey for 25 years. I want the truth to come out,” Reuters quoted Brunson as telling the court. “I do not accept the charges mentioned in the indictment. I was never involved in any illegal activities,” said Brunson, making his defense in Turkish. His wife was in the courtroom, as were North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis and US envoy for religious freedom Sam Brownback. The trial is one of several legal cases which have damaged ties between Turkey and the US.