North Carolina pastor Andrew Brunson is still imprisoned in Turkey today, awaiting release after nearly two years. Brunson was sentenced to prison in October 2016, for the allegation that he was connected to a terror group that attempted to overthrow the Erdogan government that July. Brunson was thought to be released this week, however, his court hearing has been pushed back even further, to October 12.
The Christian Post reports, “Brunson faces up to 35 years in prison and has denied the charges, which also includes having connections to militants with the Kurdistan Workers Party. Human rights activists and U.S. lawmakers have long blasted the allegations as baseless.”
According to a witness, the accusers in Brunson’s case were three people who did not have any firsthand knowledge of Brunson’s promotion of said terrorist group. "It is all second and thirdhand," he said.
In defense of Brunson, two people were allowed to speak, one of them, a pastor, and the other, a woman. The pastor who defended Brunson emphatically told the court that he “has denounced terrorism and never had any connections with the PKK or Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, who currently lives in Pennsylvania.”
The Turkish government’s claim that Brunson and American churches are working with intelligence agencies, such as the CIA, in order to “undermine Turkish sovereignty,” was also denied by the pastor.
During the hearing, Brunson’s defense concluded that all of the accusations and “evidence” are false and unsubstantiated. He then insisted that Brunson be released from prison.
The five-and-a-half-hour hearing ended with the judge deciding to continue the trial on October 12. Brunson remains in prison until the next hearing.
“According to Reuters, Brunson, who appeared in a black suit and tie, told the court that it is hard for him to be separated from his wife, Norine, and children,” The Christian Post reports, “Although he proclaims his innocence, Brunson asserted that it is his "turn" to suffer in the name of Christ.”
"There is no concrete evidence against me. The disciples of Jesus suffered in his name, now it is my turn," the 50-year-old pastor was quoted as saying in Turkish. "I am an innocent man on all these charges. I reject them. I know why I am here. I am here to suffer in Jesus' name."
In light of this ruling, many are calling on the Trump Administration to intervene for Brunson’s release.
Please join us in prayer for Pastor Brunson and his family during this very difficult time.
Publication Date: July 19, 2018
Photo Courtesy: World Witness/Facebook