American pastor jailed in Turkey faces new charges of attempting to overthrow government
Pastor Andrew Brunson and his family had resided in Izmir, Turkey, for 23 years and had served in a small Presbyterian church in the city. However, he was caught up in the crackdown after a failed coup attempt and was arrested initially without charges. He was later on charged with being a member of the Fethullahist Terror Organization, Slate Magazine detailed.
Aside from that, Brunson was accused of delivering a "special" sermon to Kurds at his church that hinted that he was a supporter of Fethullah Gulen, an exiled cleric who the Turkish government accused of being the mastermind of the failed coup. Slate noted that there was no solid evidence that the American pastor was a member of the terror group or had planned to overthrow the government.
A previous Slate article said there were speculations that Turkey was just using Brunson to pressure the United States into extraditing Gulen, who had sought asylum in Pennsylvania.
In February, 78 members of Congress signed a letter addressed to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that called for Brunson's immediate release. The letter insisted that the American pastor "has been unjustly held" since he was apprehended by authorities in October and has not had access to American consular services, The Christian Post relayed.
Moreover, the letter highlighted the ties between the U.S. and Turkey and said this partnership could be strengthened by the mutual respect for "fundamental freedoms and the rule of law." It also insisted that there was no substantial evidence that Brunson was involved in a terror group.
Pastor Brunson is currently being represented by the American Center for Law and Justice, which is led by attorney Jay Sekulow. There is still no positive development in the American pastor's case, and the new charges only serve to compound his situation in Turkey.