It is good that Pastor Brunson has been allowed to leave prison for health reasons, but Secretary of State Pompeo is correct: “We welcome long overdue news that Pastor Brunson has been moved from prison to house arrest in Turkey, but it is not enough. We have seen no credible evidence against Mr. Brunson, and call on Turkish authorities to resolve his case immediately in a transparent and fair manner.”
Pastor Brunson is not a terrorist or a spy. He is a Protestant Christian preacher, and his ongoing detention is a blot on the already-poor record of the government of Turkey regarding religious freedom. The Order once again calls for the immediate release of Pastor Brunson, and for Turkey to choose freedom and respect for the human rights of Pastor Brunson over the alienation of its most important NATO ally.
“Turkish court rules to move American pastor Brunson from jail to house arrest,” Hürriyet Daily News, July 25, 2018:
Andrew Brunson, an American pastor being tried on terrorism and spying charges in Turkey, moved from prison to house arrest after a court ruling on July 25 citing his health problems.
Brunson, a Christian pastor from North Carolina who has lived in Turkey for more than two decades, was indicted on charges of having links with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ), which Ankara blames for the failed coup in 2016.
The Second High Penal Court in the western province of İzmir had rejected Brunson’s plea for release on July 18, deciding to continue listening to the testimonies of witnesses in the next hearing scheduled for Oct. 12.
Following an objection from Brunson’s attorney İsmail Cem Halavurt, however, the same court ruled on July 25 to move Brunson from prison to house arrest citing the “health excuse” that was stressed in the plea.
The court also banned Brunson from leaving Turkey and imposed a judicial control decision.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo welcomed the ruling, but added that “it is not enough.”
“We welcome long overdue news that Pastor Brunson has been moved from prison to house arrest in Turkey, but it is not enough. We have seen no credible evidence against Mr. Brunson, and call on Turkish authorities to resolve his case immediately in a transparent and fair manner,” Pompeo said in a tweet on July 25.
Brunson was detained nearly two years ago and faces up to 35 years in prison if found guilty. He denied the charges, calling them “shameful and disgusting.”
United States President Donald Trump last week called for his release and the U.S. Senate passed a bill last month including a measure that prohibits Turkey from buying F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets because of Brunson’s imprisonment and Turkey’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 air defense system.