The legal firm representing an American pastor is “discouraged but not shocked” by a Turkish court decision to keep him in prison until his next court appearance in October.
Appearing before a Turkish court for his third hearing on Wednesday, North Carolina native Andrew Brunson was denied freedom and remains in jail until his next court date on October 12.
Because he is a Christian in a country that is 99 percent Muslim – not to mention being in the wrong place at the wrong time in Turkey -- Brunson is being tried as a terrorist.
“Andrew Craig Brunson – a 50-year-old evangelical pastor from Black Mountain, North Carolina – was arrested in the aftermath of a 2016 coup attempt for alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, as well as a network led by U.S.-based Muslim cleric, Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey blames for the unrest,” The AP reported. “Brunson – who faces up to 35 years in prison for ‘committing crimes on behalf of terror groups without being a member’ and ‘espionage’ – strongly denies the charges.”
The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) is helping to represent the pastor, and ACLJ Executive Senior Counsel CeCe Heil admitted that the Christian legal group is "very discouraged, but not shocked."
"Clearly, we all know – and I think this is playing out in front of the world's eyes – that this is a sham trial,” Heil expressed. “And it's going to take – at which we've known this all along – its diplomatic measures. So, it's going to take [Turkish] President Erdogan himself saying, 'Yes, we can release him.’” And that might be achieved through the courts, but we're not expecting justice through the court as an independent body."
Heil told OneNewsNow that after hearing the news, both the executive and legislative branches of the United States government went into motion on behalf of Brunson.
"Obviously the United States is extremely upset with this outcome, and diplomatic efforts have been increased," the Christian attorney pointed out.
Heil also noted that when Brunson's next trial date comes up in October, he will have been in jail for his Christian faith for two years.