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Newsmax Exclusive: Turkish Indictment of Rev. Brunson Serves Up 'Wild Conspiracies'

Newsmax Exclusive: Turkish Indictment of Rev. Brunson Serves Up 'Wild Conspiracies'
Rev. Andrew Brunson (DHA Depo/AP)

By Monday, 04 June 2018 05:30 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Newsmax has obtained a copy of the indictment against American Christian Andrew Brunson, the pastor who remains in a Turkish jail on allegations he was somehow conspiring to overthrow the Turkish government. It casts serious doubts on the government's case.

The new information emerged after a May 7 hearing at which a judge ruled Rev. Brunson would remain in prison at least until his next hearing in mid-July.

That judge refused to hear from any of the would-be witnesses who appeared in court to testify on Brunson's behalf. There have been reports the potential witnesses who were prepared to defend Brunson have now been listed by that judge as "enemies of the state."

Sources remarked even the Turkish reporters – that is, those media approved by State – appeared to be shocked no defense witnesses were called, and instead apparently had been blacklisted.

Brunson could face up to 35 years in prison if convicted, and a growing movement of activists in the United States is calling for his release.

One potential witness not permitted to testify, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution, tells Newsmax he is outraged because one of the "secret" witnesses who spoke against Brunson had been involved in previous cases against religious organizations. That witness' testimony comprises a considerable portion of the pastor's 107-page indictment.

The source describes that key witness as an extortioner, who in recent years has allegedly used blackmail and physical threats in an attempt to confiscate large sums of money from several religious leaders.

On one occasion, sources say, Brunson's accuser filed legal claims seeking $800,000 from a religious group, unrelated to Brunson's case. The key witness against Brunson lost both the initial case, and a subsequent appeal.

An examination of Brunson's indictment suggests some of its passages might have been adapted from distortions of the previous court case.

Sandra Jolley, the vice chair of the U.S. government Commission on International Religious Freedom, reported Brunson's 11-hour-long hearing May 7 was "dominated by wild conspiracies, tortured logic, and secret witnesses, but no real evidence to speak of."

She added: "Upon these rests a man's life."

Brunson's case remains a matter of grave concern for American officials, who continue demand his release. President Trump on April 18 called Brunson via Twitter "a fine gentleman and a Christian leader in the United States," adding, "I am more a spy than he is."

Brunson's incarceration has sparked hundreds, perhaps thousands of U.S. prayer vigils, including those coordinated by major Christian organizations including events organized by the Christian Defense Coalition and Open Doors USA. Spontaneous prayer gatherings have occurred at churches around the United States.

The Turkish court's arrest and indictment of Brunson has been described by Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., as a de facto hostage-taking. Analysts say the Turkish government hopes to trade Brunson for Islamist cleric Fethullah Gulen, who resides in Pennsylvania.

Gulen, formerly a close ally of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, is now accused of terrorism and plotting a failed coup against the Turkish regime.

Erdogan has openly declared his intentions: "'Give us the pastor back,' they say. You have one pastor as well. Give him to us," Erdogan said, referring to Gulen. "Then we will try him [Brunson] and give him to you."

Norine Brunson, Andrew's wife, recently expressed her gratitude to the outpouring of concern over her husband's case in a recent Facebook post:

"So many prayers from so many places, so much fasting," she posted. "This is not in vain. Surely a very big work of God is coming from this huge wave – really a tsunami – of prayer. Thank you!"

Lela Gilbert is an internationally recognized expert on religious persecution, an award-winning writer, and an adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute who lived in Jerusalem for over a decade. Her book "Saturday People, Sunday People: Israel through the Eyes of a Christian Sojourner" received wide critical acclaim. She is also co-author of "Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians," and "Blind Spot: When Journalists Don't Get Religion." Follow her on Twitter @lelagilbert. For more from her Faith a Freedom blog, Click Here.

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An examination of Rev. Andrew Brunson's Turkish indictment suggests some of its passages might have been adapted from distortions of the previous court case, our Lela Gilbert reports in a Newsmax exclusive.
andrew brunson, turkey, hostage, reverend, pastor, indictment
Monday, 04 June 2018 05:30 PM
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