Turkey denies appeal for jailed Christian pastor

Turkish officials Thursday denied the appeal of imprisoned American pastor Andrew Brunson, who was jailed in October on claims by officials that he held “membership in an armed terrorist organization.”

The American Center for Law and Justice, which is defending Brunson, said the claims are simply trumped up.

On Thursday, they pointed out that “the charging documents do not present any evidence against him.”

Brunson unsuccessfully appealed his detention.

ACLJ said another appeal to a higher court is allowed, but it is uncertain how that appeal process will go.

Previously, the legal group said, Brunson was denied access to his Turkish attorney.

“Now, he is allowed visits with his Turkish attorney – however, due to an emergency decree in Turkey, those visits are recorded and any notes taken by his attorney are copied. Thus, Pastor Andrew has no attorney-client privilege,” ACLJ said.

“Yesterday, Pastor Andrew was allowed a visit with family. During that visit, Pastor Andrew indicated that, while he had been previously denied a Bible, he is now allowed to have a New Testament. Pastor Andrew also has a visit with U.S. Embassy officials scheduled for tomorrow.

“We are continuing our diplomatic efforts to engage the incoming U.S. administration, and moving forward with an appeal of his case,” ACLJ said.

He was arrested Oct. 7, along with his wife, Norine, after having ministered in Turkey for 23 years.

His advocates call him a casualty of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s brutal attacks on religious minorities and critics following a failed coup last summer.

Brunson, 48, is a U.S. citizen from Black Mountain, North Carolina.

ACLJ reported he was tricked into appearing at a government office where he was told he would be given a long-awaited permanent residency card. Instead, he was arrested.

Jordan Sekulow, ACLJ executive director, noted the government of Turkey, led by an Islamic party, has begun increased crackdowns on Christians. If convicted, Brunson “could face years in prison based on extremely serious – and false – charges.”

Silence from Obama

Meanwhile, President Obama has declined to get involved, even though Turkey is a NATO ally, noted Joel Richardson, a Christian author/filmmaker who has traveled to Turkey on mission trips and has many contacts in the country.

“As the Obama administration expels its final gasp bitterly trying to damage the incoming Trump presidency, they have been entirely silent concerning the deeply alarming and unjust imprisonment of American pastor Andrew Brunson by the government of Turkey,” Richardson told WND.

Richardson said Brunson is among the 100,000 political opponents, journalists, Christian leaders and others attacked by Erdogan.

“In the case of evangelical Pastor Brunson, his detainment has been done entirely without legitimate charges. Christian workers in the region say that Turkey claims to have an unnamed source who says he overheard Brunson nearly a decade ago making a comment, which the government is now using to charge him with being a threat to national security,” Richardson reported. “He is presently being detained indefinitely.”

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