Trump tweets support for US pastor jailed in Turkey

A woman walks in front of ‘Dirilis (Resurrection) Church’, in which US pastor Andrew Brunson had his congregation, in Izmir, Turkey. (AFP)
Updated 18 April 2018
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Trump tweets support for US pastor jailed in Turkey

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump has voiced support for an American Christian pastor on trial in Turkey on terror-related charges, in a case that has increased friction between Ankara and Washington.
Andrew Brunson, who ran a Protestant church in the western city of Izmir, has been detained by Turkish authorities since October 2016. If convicted, he risks up to 35 years in jail.
“Pastor Andrew Brunson, a fine gentleman and Christian leader in the United States, is on trial and being persecuted in Turkey for no reason,” Trump tweeted late Tuesday.
“They call him a Spy, but I am more a Spy than he is. Hopefully he will be allowed to come home to his beautiful family where he belongs!”
A Turkish court ruled Monday to keep Brunson in custody, deeming him to be a flight risk.
He is accused of engaging in activities on behalf of the group led by exiled Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen — who Ankara says is behind a failed 2016 coup — and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Both the Gulen movement and the PKK are banned by Turkey as terror groups.


Brunson is also accused of espionage for political or military purposes.
In an indication of the importance of the case for Washington, his hearing on Monday was attended by Sam Brownback, the US ambassador at large for religious freedom, and Senator Thom Tillis from Brunson’s home state of North Carolina.
The US State Department meanwhile said it had seen “no credible evidence” Brunson was guilty of a crime.
The Brunson case has further hiked tensions between NATO allies Turkey and the US, with Trump raising the issue in talks with Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Relations are already strained over American backing for a Kurdish militia in Syria despised by Ankara and the jailing of two employees at American missions in Turkey.


At least 7 killed by car bomb in Benghazi, Libya

A historic building that was destroyed during a three-year conflict is seen in Benghazi, Libya, on February 28, 2018. A car bomb explodsion on a busy street in the center of Benghazi on Thursday night killed at least seven people. (REUTERS/Esam Omran Al-Fetori/File Photo)
Updated 25 May 2018
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At least 7 killed by car bomb in Benghazi, Libya

  • The bomb exploded behind the Tibesti hotel, the city’s biggest, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, on a street where people were taking a stroll after a day of fasting until sunset in the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.
  • Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city, is controlled by the Libyan National Army (LNA), the dominant force in eastern Libya led by commander Khalifa Haftar.

BENGHAZI, Libya: At least seven people were killed and 10 wounded when a car bomb exploded on a busy street in the center of the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi on Thursday night, a hospital medic said.
The bomb exploded behind the Tibesti hotel, the city’s biggest, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, on a street where people were taking a stroll after a day of fasting until sunset in the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.
No more details on the bombing were immediately available. Eight cars parked on the street lined with shops were destroyed.
Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city, is controlled by the Libyan National Army (LNA), the dominant force in eastern Libya led by commander Khalifa Haftar.
The LNA was battling Islamists, including some linked to Islamic State and Al-Qaeda, as well as other opponents until late last year in the Mediterranean port city.
Security has improved since then, but two mosque bombings earlier this year killed at least 35 people.
Haftar launched his military campaign in Benghazi in May 2014 in response to bombings and assassinations blamed on Islamist militants, part of anarchy that ensued after a NATO-backed uprising ended Muammar Qaddafi’s rule in 2011.
In the past few months, there have been occasional, smaller- scale bombings apparently targeting LNA allies or supporters, but attacks in the city center are rare (Reporting by Ayman Al-Warfalli)