Behind the scenes negotiations by President Trump with his Turkish counterpart may have payed off as American Pastor Andrew Brunson has been moved out of prison and put under house arrest in Turkey. It’s the first sign of hope for the pastor who had been been imprisoned by the Turkish regime for nearly two years.
Brunson faces up to 15 years in prison on charges of “committing crimes on behalf of terror groups.” The 50-year-old evangelical pastor from Black Mountain, North Carolina strongly denies the accusations. He wrote earlier this year that he’s in prison not for anything he’s done wrong, but because he’s a Christian pastor.
Aykan Erdemir, a former member of Turkish Parliament and now a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, talked about the development on Twitter:
With international outrage rising against Turkey for holding Brunson hostage, some observers had thought Brunson might be released by Turkey at a recent hearing earlier this month. But the court did no such thing.
“The prosecution, however, disappointed the optimists by bringing additional witnesses to the court, who presented unsubstantiated claims and hearsay. Meanwhile, Turkey’s pro-government media continued to smear the pastor, denying him any possibility of a fair trial,” Erdemir says.
President Trump has repeatedly demanded Brunson’s release and personally spoken with the Turkish president as well as sending personal envoys to Turkey while US lawmakers like Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) have rallied with over 60 senators signing a letter to the Turkish administration calling for Brunson’s release.
Turkey continues to isolate itself from the Western world as its President dismantles democratic institutions and institutes islamist policies on its primarily secular society. Many see it as becoming the new Iran in the region which poses significant problems for the United States and Europe as Turkey is a member of NATO.