A Turkish daily has accused jailed American pastor Andrew Brunson of being a "high-level CIA agent" and of being behind the coup attempt in Turkey last year, according the the website Turkish Minute.
The front-page story in the newspaper Takvim also said Brunson would have been made "CIA chief" if the coup attempt had been successful, and is a "high-level member of the Gülen movement," a reference to an Erdogan rival living in exile in the United States.
The article claims that the arrest of the pastor has "paralyzed" CIA operations in Turkey.
Brunson, a North Carolina native, has been in custody since October after he and his wife were detained on immigration violation charges.
The Brunsons have been missionaries to Turkey for 23 years.
Brunson's wife Norine has been released, but Andrew remains jailed for alleged ties to anti-government groups.
Turkish Minute reports Takvim's editor-in-chief, Ergun Diler, who accompanied Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during his visit to Washington, D.C., last week, also published a column about
Brunson with the title "Rambo Pastor," and said the CIA would kill Brunson in prison if they believed that Turkey would not deport him to the US.
Brunson's lawyer, Jay Sekulow, said President Trump and Vice President Pence raised the Brunson case three times with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during his visit last week to Washington.