Yesterday at the İzmir 2ndHeavy Penal Court, US Pastor Andrew Craig Brunson’s first hearing is started. Brunson was arrested in October 2016 on charges of being a member of the Gulen structure and being sentenced to 35 years in prison.
Brunson’s request for release “was rejected”. According to the BBC, Brunson returning to his wife in the courtroom after the decision, said in English, “I’m becoming crazy now. I love you.” Brunson , in his first hearing by the Izmir 2nd Heavy Penal Court said: “FETÖ is an insult for my belief. I am a Christian pastor.” and rejected the accusations.
Senator ThomTillisfrom North Carolina and Lawyer Sam Brownback from the Ambassador at Large Religious Freedom whocame to the prison campus did a statement to the media after the decision. Brawnback said: “It was a big disappointment for me. I think the information presented here today clearly showed why he was innocent.”
Detention in front of the White House
According to Cansu Çamlıbel’s news from Hürriyet, during the trial in Izmir, three US citizens protested Pastor Brunson’s detention in front of the WhiteHouse.Pastor Patrick Mahoney was detained by the police when he refused to comply with the rules of conduct in front of the White House. Patrick Mahoney’s wife Katie Mahoney said that they came to the White House for solidarity as Christians who believe in religious freedomfor Brunson even if they don’t know him personally.Katie Mahone said: “Pastor Brunson’s only crime is to be a Christian. No government should not arrest anyone for their faith.We are here to show that we remember Pastor Brunson and remind President Trump to raise his voice for religious freedom,as he did it anyway.”
Following the stance in Izmir, the US Department of State Spokesman Heather Nauert made a written statement. Nauert stated:
“The entire US government is closely following the Brunson case. We have not seen reliable evidence that Brunson is guilty, and we are convinced that he is innocent. We hope that the Turkish legal system will solve this case in a timely, fair and transparent manner.”