Christians in Turkey are rejoicing at the release of Andrew Brunson from prison and the lifting of travel restrictions to allow his return to the United States.
On 12 October Andrew attended the fourth hearing at a court in Aliaga, Izmir, in a trial in which he was accused of charges relating to terrorism and espionage. Despite several witnesses changing their previous testimony against him, Andrew was sentenced to five years in prison for intentionally aiding terrorist organisations, but this was reduced to three years and one month in prison, with the final year suspended. As he has been imprisoned since October 2016 he is now free and may leave Turkey if he wishes.
Andrew’s lawyer, Ismail Cem Halavurt, will appeal the prison sentence.
Andrew’s detention had been one of a number of problems in US-Turkey relations and the US had appealed multiple times for Andrew’s release. In response to Andrew’s case, the United States imposed sanctions against Turkey which had a serious impact on the Turkish economy.
The indictment against Andrew was based on “evidence” supplied by secret witnesses, accusing him of links to the FETO organisation (blamed for a 2016 coup attempt) and to the PKK – a Kurdish insurgent organisation. The prosecutor had asked for a prison sentence of thirty-five years, reducing that request to 10 years at the 12 October hearing.
Christians in Turkey praise God for Andrew’s release and request prayer that:
- the Lord will continue to strengthen Andrew as he recovers from this ordeal
- he will soon be reunited with his family
- Christians in Turkey would not be intimidated by this case but would maintain a clear witness