American pastor Andrew Brunson will remain in a Turkish prison until his next court hearing scheduled on July 18, according to a spokesperson for the American Center for Law and Justice. The ACLJ has taken on Brunson’s case.
“Turkey is getting inundated with international requests for his release,” Cece Heil of ACLJ told CBN News.
“We continue to keep building the defense and working with the Turkish attorney on the ground,” she continued.
Brunson faces up to 35 years in prison in Turkey for what many believe are unjust charges.
His case has even caught the attention of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which makes Brunson’s case unique as the international panel of human rights experts only investigate a limited number of cases.
According to the ACLJ, “The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention takes even fewer cases than the US Supreme Court. It’s that difficult to even get a case heard. Now, they’ve taken up Pastor Andrew’s plight.”
“The United States has been very forceful in demanding his release, and now we literally have the world coming to our aid and demanding Pastor Brunson’s release as well,” said Heil.
Meanwhile, a group of US senators, led by North Carolina Republican Thom Tillis, is pushing for his release.
Tillis sent a letter, signed by 66 senators, directly to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to show American support for Brunson. "I think we sent a very clear message that we're all watching," Tillis added.
Tillis personally attended Brunson's last hearing to hear firsthand the charges against the pastor. He said after sitting in the courtroom for 12 hours, he believes Brunson's only crime is serving Turkey for more than 20 years as a Christian missionary.
"It's unlike anything I've ever seen in a US courtroom – the way that they conduct themselves, the flimsy circumstantial evidence. That he could keep his composure when you heard some of the things that they're using to convict this man for 35 years in prison, basically a death sentence, was remarkable," Tillis stated.
The senator says he believes that if Turkey's President Erdogan knew all the information he did about Brunson's trial, he would let him go.
"If you sat through 12 hours of testimony in that courtroom, as I did in that Turkish courtroom, it would be hard for me to believe that President Erdogan would draw the conclusion that this is how he wants to project Turkey on the national stage," Tillis said.
Brunson is one of many Americans currently imprisoned in Turkey, including a NASA scientist and consulate workers.
"This is a serious problem, and Pastor Brunson is really the tip of the iceberg," Tillis said.
He warns Americans to avoid traveling to the country.
"In my opinion, right now, no American is safe traveling to Turkey," he declared.
Tillis said he's ready for a marathon and will keep fighting until Pastor Brunson is released.