Authorities Cite Health Concerns as Primary Reason for Transfer
07/25/18 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Turkey’s Second High Penal Court in Izmir has ordered American pastor Andrew Brunson to be transferred from prison to house arrest. The Turkish government has held Pastor Brunson for nearly two years. He is banned from leaving the country, and his next hearing is scheduled for October 12, 2018. Pastor Brunson faces a falsified indictment of having links with the Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ) and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), among other charges.
Pastor Brunson has ministered in Turkey since 1993 and was originally detained with his wife Norine in October 2016. While his wife was released shortly thereafter, Pastor Brunson remained imprisoned despite a lack of formal charges. The first series of charges was brought 63 days into his imprisonment, and other charges have continued to be added as time has progressed.
An official 62-page indictment was accepted in March 2018 and his first hearing was scheduled for April 2018. The indictment is based on classified evidence and secret witnesses.
The most recent hearing occurred on July 18, 2018 and the judge rejected a plea to release Pastor Brunson. Prosecutors are seeking 30+ years of imprisonment for Pastor Brunson.
According to the Daily Sabah, which is a propaganda arm of the Turkish government, “Jurors had reconsidered the decision based on the plea by Brunson and his lawyer over his health and had come to the conclusion that his detention could be maintained effectively through house arrest given the circumstances.”
Religious freedom in Turkey has seriously deteriorated since the 2016 military coup. Turkey is a Tier 2 Country on the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom’s (USCIRF) annual report.
Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “While we welcome this news as a positive development in Pastor Brunson’s case, we cannot forget that Turkey is engaging in a game of hostage diplomacy. Throughout every stage, Turkey has taken deliberate steps in an attempt to define the narrative. There is no truth in the charges facing Pastor Brunson, who has suffered immensely throughout this whole ordeal. We must continue to pray without ceasing that Pastor Brunson will soon be cleared of all charges, restored his rights, and allowed to return home to the US.”
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