An anonymous witness has told a Turkish court on Monday that American Pastor Andrew Brunson collaborated with an outlawed political party to establish a Christian Kurdish state.
Brunson, a pastor who has led a church in Izmir for two decades, is currently facing up to 35 years' imprisonment over his supposed links to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the movement led by Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen.
The pastor denied the allegations during the second hearing of his trial, saying he never permitted "politics to enter the church."
The secret witness, who was identified only by the codename "Serhat," reportedly gave his testimony via a long-distance system, NewsOK reported, citing the Anadolu Agency.
According to the witness, Brunson supported the Kurdish militants in various ways, and he was also helped by a Syrian who had converted to Christianity.
Brunson described the allegations as "shameful" and "disgusting," noting that there is no evidence to support the witness' claims.
"There is not one photograph or tape recording praising the PKK at the (Izmir) Resurrection Church. Our church had several Turkish followers. Our doors were open to everyone. I strived to prevent politics entering the church," the pastor reportedly stated.
The court reportedly ruled to keep him in detention and scheduled the next hearing for July 18.
The proceedings on Monday was attended by Sandra Jolley, vice chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
She contended that the hearing was "dominated by wild conspiracies, tortured logic, and secret witnesses, but no real evidence to speak of."
"Worse still, the judge's decision at the conclusion of today's hearing to dismiss all of the witnesses called by Pastor Brunson's defense without listening to a single minute of their testimony is simply unconscionable," she said, according to NewsOK.
One of the pieces of evidence presented to support the allegations against the pastor was a video about the Middle Eastern dish Maklube, according to The Citizen Times.
The dish is usually prepared by members of the Gulen movement during meetings and religious gatherings, according to the indictment against Brunson.
The 62-page document cited a video of the dish reportedly sent by Brunson's daughter as evidence that he sympathizes with the movement, which has been accused of starting the coup against the Turkish government in 2016.
It also claimed that all Christian churches in the U.S. are part of an organization called CAMA. It further asserted that 40 percent of the U.S. armed forces serving overseas are comprised of Mormons.
Some of Brunson's supporters believe that he has been taken hostage by the Turkish government, which is seeking the extradition of Gulen from the U.S.
Gulen, who is currently living in Pennsylvania, has been blamed by the Turkish government for instigating the 2016 coup, but the cleric has denied any involvement in the failed attempt.