Turkey delays pastor's trial, gets earful from Trump, others

Monday, April 23, 2018
 | 
Bill Bumpas (OneNewsNow.com)

Pastor Andrew BrunsonThe U.S. government and advocates for persecuted Christians are rallying behind an American pastor who has been imprisoned in Turkey, charged with "Christianization," and faces what would amount to a life sentence.

North Carolina native Andrew Brunson (pictured) is on trial in Turkey, charged with terrorism and espionage despite his 23 years of service to the Turkish people. The conservative Christian group, the American Center for Law and Justice, has been lobbying for Brunson's release; but on day one of the trial, the Turkish judge refused to release the pastor and delayed the trial until May 7. The 50-year-old, who was arrested in October 2016, is facing 35 years in prison. (See earlier story)

Speaking last week in Charlotte, NC, Vice President Mike Pence brought attention to efforts by the Trump administration to bring Brunson home:

Pence: "Andrew Brunson is a minister who's been wrongfully detained in Turkey for a year and a half.  As President Trump said this week, he is 'a fine gentleman and a Christian leader' who is 'being persecuted…for no reason.' And today, I join with the President, all the people of North Carolina, and the people of America to say, it's time for Turkey to send Pastor Andrew Brunson home."

President Trump tweeted his support for the pastor on April 17 – one day after the trial was postponed.

Heil

ACLJ senior counsel CeCe Heil Heil tells OneNewsNow they appreciate the unprecedented support that the Trump administration has been providing. "We cannot thank our government enough for the efforts that they are doing," she shares. "It just seems that Turkey has dug their heels in and we're probably going to have to up the pressure and push harder."

Heil says this is a critical time for people to put the pressure on the president of Turkey to do the right thing.

"That is where our petition on our website – which has already been signed by over half a million people – is very important and critical," she urges. "We need to show President Erdoğan in numbers that the eyes of the world are watching this case and he's not going to get by with that."

The ACLJ also reports that a bipartisan coalition representing two-thirds of the U.S. Senate sent a letter on Friday to President Erdoğan demanding Brunson's immediate release. Brunson, says the letter, "is being used as a political pawn by elements of the Turkish government bent on destroying the longstanding partnership between two great nations."

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