Turkey (MNN) — American Pastor Andrew Brunson recently appealed to be released from house arrest in Turkey and to have his travel ban lifted. A lower Turkish court rejected this appeal on Wednesday. However, a higher court still needs to rule on the appeal, so things could still change.
Brunson was moved to house arrest less than a month ago due to health concerns. The Turkish government had imprisoned Brunson in a paranoid crackdown on multiple sectors following the failed 2016 coup.
Ismail Cem Halavurt, Brunson’s lawyer, told Reuters that an appeals process usually takes three to seven days but that we could hear an update sooner than that.
Meanwhile, players on an international scale have turned Brunson’s case into a game of “chicken”. And so far, neither side seems to be backing down.
After Brunson was placed under house arrest, Washington sanctioned two Turkish ministers and announced that tariffs on metal imports will be doubled. Ankara struck back with doubled tariffs on select US imports such as alcohol, tobacco, and cars.
David Curry, President and CEO of Open Doors USA says, “The Trump administration has levied taxes and tariffs on the Turkish government that have really caused financial turmoil with their… currency. This has caused enormous turmoil for them, but I think what it has done in a sense is raise the value of religious expression and raised this discussion. Unfortunately, it has done a lot of harm to the Turkish economy and the Turkish people, but it’s really started with and continued by the carelessness…of the Turkish president in my opinion.
“Wisely, this administration has decided that human rights [are] a larger part of our diplomatic discussion. When you have a case like this which is so brazenly a hostage negotiation on behalf of what should be a diplomatic partner, there has to be punishments and there has to be leverage used to get them to come back to international norms where we can talk about what is going on and talk without threats and without economic impact.”
The US government says Brunson’s move to house arrest was inadequate and has repeatedly demanded Turkey release the American pastor. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has implied that he will only release Brunson if the US extradites Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric Erdogan believes orchestrated the 2016 coup.
“This is a case where a pastor is being held… hostage by the Turkish government so that the American government will release one of his political enemies. This pastor now has been through so many court cases recently.”
Brunson’s next court hearing will be on October 12. His hearings have been repeatedly pushed back and the defense is frustrated by a severe lack of evidence presented for the charges against Bruson.
Curry explains, “While I don’t understand all the labyrinth of the Turkish legal system, some of the facts are clear. One of them is the entire case against Pastor Brunson is paper thin. They won’t tell us who the accusers are that say he was some kind of conspirator. We’ve seen the charges that were brought against him, that his Christianity was referred to as ‘terrorism’. There is nothing there against an attack on Christian faith in Turkey and a desire to use an American Christian pastor as leverage with the American administration.”
Please continue to faithfully pray for Brunson, his family, and the Church in Turkey. Christians are under a lot of scrutiny in the Muslim-majority nation, and Brunson’s high profile case is an opportunity to represent Christ in difficult circumstances.
Pray specifically for Brunson’s faith to be strengthened. Ask the Lord to comfort him through Scripture. Pray also for the Turkish Church to be invigorated in ministry and united as the Body of Christ.
Curry also asks, “What we need is some wisdom. We need to pray for that, that the justice system will really step back and look at this case as it is.”
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