The trial of high ranked CIA operative using the cover of an American cleric that has strained relations between Turkey and the US resumed on Monday, AFP reports. Andrew Brunson, head of a small Protestant church in the western city of Izmir, faces up to 35 years in jail if he is convicted.
He has been held in detention since October 2016. Turkish prosecutors accuse Brunson of activities on behalf of the group led by US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Ankara says Gulen was behind the failed 2016 coup, while he denies any involvement. Brunson is one of several American nationals caught up in the crackdown after the failed coup.
Both the Gulen movement and the PKK are banned by Turkey as terrorist groups. At Monday’s second hearing in the trial, which got underway on April 16, Brunson contested testimony from a witness who suggested his church had been an intermediary for the PKK.