19 March 2018 – BY POMED  – Turkey Rejects Release of Two U.S. Detainees: On March 14, a Turkish criminal court rejected an appeal for the release of Hamza Uluçay, a U.S. Consulate employee held in custody since March 7, 2017. Accused of allegedly maintaining affiliations with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Uluçay faces a prison sentence that could range anywhere from seven to 15 years. On March 13, a Turkish prosecutor called for a life sentence for Pastor Andrew Brunson. Held in the province of Izmir since October 2016, Brunson is accused of allegedly being “a member and executive of the terrorist group.”

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reportedly proposed returning Brunson to the United States in exchange for Fethullah Gulen, a cleric blamed by the Turkish government for the 2016 attempted coup. Earlier in February the European Center for Law and Justice (ECLJ) released a statement to the United Nations Human Rights Sector addressing Brunson’s detention, accusing Turkey of “violating not only its obligations under the UN Charter, but its own Constitution,” going on to advise the UN that “Turkey should respectfully be reminded of its continuing obligations under its constitution… to respect and value the freedom of religion and rule of law.”

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