Andrew Brunson used as leverage to get US to extradite exiled Muslim leader Fethullah Gülen.
Turkey’s president has for the first time confirmed publicly that an American pastor jailed for the past 12 months is being held as a political hostage.
In a speech at his presidential palace last Thursday, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan openly called on the United States to exchange pastor Andrew Brunson for Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish citizen living in exile in the US since 1999 who is accused of masterminding last year’s failed coup via his international network of followers.
“[The US] says, ‘Give us the pastor back,’” Erdoğan said. “You have one pastor [of ours] as well. The pastor we have [Brunson] is on trial. [Gülen] is not—he is living in Pennsylvania. Give him to us. You can easily give him to us. You can give him right away. Then we will try [Brunson] and give him to you.’”
But Erdoğan’s repeated demands to both the Obama and Trump administrations to extradite Gülen back to Turkey have not been successful.
Turkey has launched a massive internal crackdown over the past 15 months to identify and punish what it calls the FETO (Fethullah Terror Organization) network accused of infiltrating Turkey’s armed forces and government. More than 50,000 “suspected” judges, prosecutors, soldiers, academics, journalists, human rights activists, and police officers have been jailed, held for months in pre-trial detention.
Since last October, Brunson has been one of these prisoners. He remains jailed without any written indictment explaining his alleged charges or providing any evidence against him. Judicial proceedings remain stalled, and his lawyer continues to be refused access to the sealed file of accusations against him.
First detained …
Source: Christianity Today Magazine