In 2016 a group led by Fethullah Gulen attempted a government coup in the country of Turkey, which ultimately did not succeed, although 250 persons died in the scuffle. Among those whom the Turkish government is accusing of helping it along is an American pastor from North Carolina.
Pastor Andrew Brunson’s trial is now underway to determine whether he indeed abetted in the coup. His lawyer, Cem Halavurt, asserts that the grounds that Brunson helped in the coup are “totally unfounded,” according to BBC News.
Brunson at the time was running a Protestant church in the Turkish city of Izmir. He was arrested in October 2016. If convicted, he faces up to 35 years behind bars.
His lawyer, Halavurt, said that the trial has brought out mixed reactions in his client, who feels “both nervous, but also excited because it is the first time he will appear before a judge. He has expectations and a hope.”
After the coup ended, the Turkish government, led by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, spearheaded a massive crackdown that led to 50,000 arrests, 100,000 employees fired, as well as newspapers and TV stations closed down.
Gulen is currently living in exile in Pennsylvania and has denied any involvement in the coup, but Turkey still wants him back to press charges. Last September, President Erdogan suggested a swap – Brunson for Gulen – but the idea was nixed by US authorities.
Brunson’s imprisonment has taken a toll on him. According to the American Center for Law and Justice, he’s lost 50 pounds and has been denied private meetings with his lawyer.
It has also taken a toll on his family. His daughter, Jacqueline Furnari, has postponed her wedding while her father remains in Turkey.
“I’m still waiting for my dad to walk me down the aisle, and I’m still waiting for that father-daughter dance,” she said.
Please pray for Pastor Brunson during his trial, that he will be released. Be sure to read about a prison fight at a maximum security prison in South Carolina that left 7 dead, 17 injured.