After a 13-hour court hearing on Monday in Turkey, the U.S. State Department is convinced that the Turkish government does not have any “credible evidence” to convict American Pastor Andrew Brunson of terrorism charges.
“The entire U.S. government is following Mr. Brunson’s case closely. We have seen no credible evidence that Mr. Brunson is guilty of a crime and are convinced that he is innocent,” a statement released by the federal agency on Monday night reads.
“We believe that Turkey is a state bound by the rule of law, and we have faith in the Turkish people’s commitment to justice. We hope that the judicial system in Turkey will resolve his case in a timely, fair, and transparent manner.”
Brunson, a North Carolina resident who has ministered for over two decades with his wife in Izmir, was arrested in October 2016 and could face up to 35 years in prison if he’s convicted of espionage and of other terror-related charges.
After over 18 months in prison and concerning reports about his health and mental state, Brunson finally received his day in court in the town of Aliaga. Although advocates hoped that he would be released and have the charges dropped, he was remanded back to prison. Another hearing is scheduled for May 7.
New York City Pastor William Devlin, who traveled to Turkey to witness the trial, told The Christian Post that Brunson gave his own defense and went “sentence-by-sentence” for over six hours to refute a 62-page indictment.
“Brunson was accused of meeting people he said he never met,” Devlin said, adding that Brunson told the court that his church is fully transparent and there are no “secret meetings” or “collusion with the Kurds or the Syrians.”
“[His] honesty, integrity and composure all glorified God; he shared his deep love for Turkey and the Turkish people,” Devlin added in an email.
The pastor of Izmir Resurrection Church is accused of having ties to the U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen and his FETO network, which the Turkish government accuses of leading a 2016 coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
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Source: Christian Post