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American pastor refused release from Turkish jail

Andrew Brunson was jailed last month over alleged ties with the Fetullah Gulen movement, an organisation authorities believe was connected with the botched uprising.

According to Middle East Concern those close to the pastor of Izmir Resurrection Church in western Turkey asked other Christians to pray that "the accusations against Andrew will be clearly repudiated."

A US citizen who had been living in Turkey for 23 years, Mr Brunson was arrested along with his wife Norine on 7th October 2016.

While Norine was later released, he was taken to an immigration detention centre and, since 9th December, Mr Brunson has been held at a prison in Aliaga, near Izmir.

The church leader, who can now appeal against the decision not to free him, has been allowed to keep a copy of the New Testament with him in prison, however his family must apply to the government each time they want to visit him.

Those close to Mr Brunson have urged believers to pray that: "God will strengthen and encourage Andrew, speaking to him during his imprisonment, and comfort and protect his family [and] family visits and telephone calls will not be obstructed."

Their message also requests prayer that: "Andrew will soon be released from detention and allowed to return home [and] Christians in Turkey will not be intimidated by these and other recent pressures."

It's understood a clampdown by Turkish authorities in the wake of the attempted coup has seen more than 100,000 dismissed from their jobs and in excess of 40,000 detained on terrorism charges, including judges and opposition MPs.

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