NRB’s president & CEO, Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, is urging Christians in America to pray as the July 18 trial date for imprisoned American Pastor Andrew Brunson approaches.
Furthermore, Johnson is encouraging Christians to sign a petition demanding the release of Brunson, who has been wrongfully detained in Turkey and denied due process rights for years.
“Let’s unite in prayer for Pastor Brunson and his family,” he said.
“It’s time for the Church to pray. It’s time for the Church to speak up and stand up. Let your voice be heard,” he added, noting the petition that is currently being circulated by the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) has been signed so far by more than 580,000 individuals.
A U.S. citizen who pastored churches in Turkey for more than two decades, Brunson was arrested by Turkish authorities in October 2016 and held without charges for months. The North Carolina native was then kept in prison after being accused, without compelling evidence, of being a member of a terrorist group. A few months ago, an official indictment was filed by Turkish prosecutors, who are seeking a 35-year sentence for the American pastor.
After eight months of imprisonment, Brunson’s trial began with a hearing on April 16. A second hearing was held on May 6, and the third hearing is now scheduled for July 18.
The European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ), an international affiliate of ACLJ, is actively advocating for Brunson before international institutions and media.
On June 25, ECLJ addressed the 38th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, again drawing the council’s attention to Brunson’s plight.
“Turkey has made it clear that this is a sham trial, and, as indicated by President Erdoğan’s multiple demands to swap Pastor Brunson for Fethullah Gülen, Pastor Brunson is undoubtedly a political prisoner being held as a bargaining chip for Turkey,” ECLJ stated.
“Turkey has violated many international laws and obligations, as well as its own constitution, by arresting and detaining an innocent pastor in prison for over a year and a half based on the hearsay testimony of clearly questionable secret witnesses. Moreover, Turkey has denied Pastor Brunson the opportunity to mount an adequate defence by flippantly dismissing all defence witness testimony,” it added.
“The ELCJ respectfully requests that this Council remind Turkey of its obligations and make every effort to ensure that Pastor Brunson is released and allowed to return home.”
On June 30, Turkey’s leading news source, the Hurriyet Daily News, ran an opinion piece by columnist Serkan Demirtas with the headline: “Pastor Brunson’s detention has become too costly for Turkey.”
In the article, Demirtas noted that Brunson’s release “would sure help the ongoing reconciliation process between Turkey and the U.S.” He also claimed that “many diplomats in Ankara expect his potential release followed by his deportation pending trial on the July 18 hearing.”
He acknowledged, however, that “it is impossible to foresee what the court’s decision will be.”
By NRB Staff
Published: July 12, 2018