July 28, 2018 / 5:21 PM / 3 months ago

Turkish, American officials discuss jailed pastor in call Saturday

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Saturday discussed American pastor Andrew Brunson, whose detention in Turkey has become a pressing issue for President Donald Trump, the State Department said.

U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson reacts as he arrives at his home after being released from the prison in Izmir, Turkey July 25, 2018. Demiroren News Agency, DHA via REUTERS

The Trump administration has escalated the pressure campaign, including threatening sanctions, to free Brunson after a court this week ordered that he be moved to house arrest after 21 months in detention. He is on trial for terrorism charges.

Brunson, who is from North Carolina and has worked in Turkey for more than 20 years, has been accused of helping the group Ankara says was behind a failed military coup in 2016. The pastor, who has denied the charges, faces up to 35 years in jail if found guilty.

Reporting by Ginger Gibson; editing by Diane Craft

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