Turkey (MNN) – As we shared earlier this month, American Pastor Andrew Brunson recently received a heavy indictment from the public prosecutor in Turkey. And now, there’s been a new development in his case.
According to Middle East Concern, the new indictment came in the form of a 62-page document. It formerly accused Brunson of being connected with Fethullah Gülen and his followers, and of being linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Miles Windsor of Middle East Concern (MEC) says, “The latest information is that a court date has been set for Andrew to appear in court on these charges.”
The date set is April 16. Windsor says it’s good to see some movement in Brunson’s case. And yet, there is still great cause for concern.
Continued injustice in the Brunson case
“The charges rely heavily on the testimony of these secret witnesses who make these claims about his connections to the terrorist groups, which these are claims obviously categorically denied by Andrew and, frankly, ludicrous.”
In addition, there’s the disturbing fact that Brunson’s lawyer did not get to see a copy of the indictment before it was leaked to the public.
“This indictment should have never been leaked in advance,” Windsor says.
Despite this string of injustices, it is Windsor’s hope that things will take a turn for the better and that the judge presiding over the case will have integrity when taking the facts into consideration. But that’s unlikely given the political stress placed on this case.
Fethullah Gülen, the man Brunson is accused of having ties with, is a Muslim cleric currently residing in the United States. He is considered an enemy of the Turkish State.
Windsor says, “President Erdogan has stated in the past that Andrew could be swapped. The terminology that he used was a cleric for a cleric and obviously, he’s looking to have Fethullah Gülen—the cleric that Erdogan blames for … the coup attempt in 2016 amongst other things—extradited from the US to Turkey. And that suggestion has been repeated this year.”
However, Windsor says it’s unlikely that there is even a legal route for the United States to extradite Gülen, even if the government thought it was a good idea.
But it’s possible that Gülen is not the only reason Brunson has received undue attention from the government. There appears to be an additional political agenda—to get a reaction out of the United States.
“Especially if there’s going to be a strong response from the US involving blanket sanctions and that sort of thing, that kind of response plays into President Erdogan’s narrative.”
In other words, Erdogan wants to present himself as a leader standing up against Western nations for Turkey’s good. For this reason, Windsor says, “The response from the US needs to be very nuanced.”
It doesn’t appear that Brunson has been singled out solely because of his Christian faith, although it does seem to be a factor. Windsor says in general, Christians haven’t been targeted as much as those who have been labeled enemies of the government. But, it’s something to watch for.
“There’s still concern about that. There’s still worry within the Christian community that they will be targeted. At the same time, the targeting tends to be anything that represents disagreement with the State, disagreement with Erdogan. Whether it’s journalists or politicians or other groups that aren’t supportive of the government’s approach and of President Erdogan are likely to be targets in the crackdown that there’s been.”
Will you respond to this story in prayer?
“He and his family would appreciate prayer that God would be strengthening him, that Andrew would know God’s peace in this situation, and his presence. It’s obviously an incredibly stressful time… We would appreciate prayer that the Turkish court would uphold justice and reject these allegations as well, and that God would provide wisdom to the Turkish lawyer who will be representing Andrew, as well. And ultimately, that Andrew will be released and be able to see his family and head home.”