An undated photo shows Andrew Brunson, an American pastor, in Izmir, Turkey. Brunson’s trial began Monday on charges of aiding groups behind an attempted coup. STR/AFP/Getty Images hide caption
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The trial of American evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson began Monday in Turkey, accused of aiding groups that organized a failed coup there in 2016. The case is further straining relations between the United States and Turkey.
The trial is taking place in Aliaga, a town on the Aagean sea north of Izmir. Brunson, 50, pastor at the Izmir Resurrection Church and has lived in Turkey for more than two decades. He faces up to 35 years in prison.
“I’ve never done something against Turkey. I love Turkey. I’ve been praying for Turkey for 25 years. I want truth to come out,” he said, according to Reuters. “I do not accept the charges mentioned in the indictment. I was never involved in any illegal activities.”
Originally from Black Mountain, N.C., Brunson was detained in October 2016 in a government crackdown following the attempted military coup. Thousands of Turks were fired from their jobs, detained or arrested as the