North Carolina pastor, Andrew Brunson, has been released from prison in Turkey, following his recent hearing. He is currently under house arrest in the country.
Just last week, Brunson had a hearing for his October 2016 sentencing in Turkey. He was accused of having connections to a terrorist organization that attempted a coup against the Turkish government in July of 2016. Though Brunson’s witness and defense strongly denied allegations, asserting he has no connection to these terrorists, the hearing ended with a continuation scheduled for this Fall.
Following a speech from Brunson’s daughter for his release and amid reports from U.S. officials and the Brunson family of the pastor’s poor health, a Turkish court granted his release, on the condition that Brunson does not leave the country or his home. “The court reportedly came to the conclusion that Brunson could be effectively detained under house arrest,” the Christian Post writes.
The American Center for Law and Justice Chief Counsel, Jay Sekulow, cites President Donald Trump as a major help in this effort: “The president has played a critical role in securing the freedom of Pastor Brunson. We have worked closely with the president on this matter and are grateful for his efforts,” Sekulow shared on Twitter, “We look forward to the ultimate release of Pastor Brunson.”
Sekulow also said of the house arrest, “This is a critical first step that we believe will result in the freedom of Pastor Brunson so he can return to the United States and be reunited with his family.”
Also commenting on the situation, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom Vice Chair, Kristina Arriaga said, “It is good that Pastor Brunson will have some relief after being held in a Turkish prison for more than 600 days. But it is not enough. The Turkish government has deprived this innocent man of his due process rights and liberty for too long, and it must completely release him. If it fails to do so, the Trump Administration and the Congress should respond strongly and swiftly with targeted sanctions against the authorities responsible.”
In addition to this overwhelming support, 66 United States senators have reportedly signed a petition for Brunson’s release.
Please be in prayer for Pastor Brunson and his family during this time.