President Donald Trump asked American Pastor Andrew Brunson, who is under house arrest in Turkey, to be a “great patriot hostage” as he declared that the U.S. will “pay nothing” for his release.
“Turkey has taken advantage of the United States for many years. They are now holding our wonderful Christian Pastor, who I must now ask to represent our Country as a great patriot hostage. We will pay nothing for the release of an innocent man, but we are cutting back on Turkey!” he wrote in a statement on Twitter Thursday.
Brunson, who is facing 35 years in prison on trumped up charges of espionage and terrorism, was remanded to house arrest and banned from leaving the country as an appeal for his release was rejected by the Third High Criminal Court in Izmir, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
Turkey has taken advantage of the United States for many years. They are now holding our wonderful Christian Pastor, who I must now ask to represent our Country as a great patriot hostage. We will pay nothing for the release of an innocent man, but we are cutting back on Turkey!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 16, 2018
Ismail Cem Halavurt, Brunson’s lawyer, had applied to the higher court after the appeal was rejected by Izmir’s Second High Criminal Court Wednesday.
Halavurt told CBS News Friday that they might file another appeal with the court as, “depending on the developments, we can apply again.” He noted that they might also appeal to Turkey’s constitutional court. Brunson’s next hearing is set for Oct. 12.
Turkey has charged Brunson with spying for the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) — a designated terrorist group in the U.S. and Turkey — and the Gulen movement, which Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has accused of being behind the defeated July 2016 coup attempt, according to Anadolu.
As part of their so-called evidence in the 62-page indictment against Brunson is a video of a Middle Eastern dish that Brunson’s daughter sent him from the United States.
The indictment further claims that American churches are linked to the FBI and the CIA, that around 40 percent of members of the U.S.’ armed forces serving overseas are Mormons.
The pastor has maintained his innocence and pressure from the U.S. continues to build as prominent lawmakers have said that the prosecution lacks credible evidence and have long called for his release.
Pastor Brunson “is not guilty” of anything, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said in a video he posted on Twitter after he and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., met with Erdoğan in Ankara on June 29. “We are working very hard to get him home.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leonardo Blair