An American pastor imprisoned in Turkey will be at the mercy of that country's courts Monday.
Pastor Andrew Brunson, 50, will stand before a court after being locked away and charged with espionage and "membership in an armed terroristic organization" among other things.
Supporters say his actual crime is being a Christian.
“Let me be crystal clear. He is on trial because he is a Christian. His faith is the crime. He is a hostage of the Turkish regime,” wrote Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice.
The ACLJ, who have taken on Brunson’s case, says the South Carolina native had no prior run-ins with the Turkish government and had been sharing the gospel there 23 years.
He has spent 17 months in prison already and faces up to 35 years.
According to the ACLJ, much of his 62-page indictment was comprised by a “secret witness.”
“We're working with the State Department and Congress as several U.S. Senators reportedly plan to attend the trial. We're demanding the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention intervene,” Sekulow continued.
During a May 2017 meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President Trump called for Brunson’s release and return to the US.
Erdogan has mentioned a sort of quid pro quo for Brunson’s release, wanting to exchange Brunson for Turkish cleric Fetullah Gulen.
Gulen, who now resides in Pennsylvania, has been accused of attempting to overthrow the Turkish government during a 2016 coup.
An ACLJ petition calling for Pastor Brunson’s release has nearly half a million signatures.
On April 10, Brunson’s wife, Norine, made this plea to fellow Christians;
“Today the Lord clearly showed me and another believer to pray for Andrew three times a day - morning, noon, evening. Like mealtimes. I have set the alarm on my phone. I would love for others to join this and pray for Andrew whenever you eat breakfast lunch and dinner - whatever time zone you are in!”