The trial we've been bracing for—to determine the fate of imprisoned American Pastor Andrew Brunson—begins today in Turkey.
This situation is no longer serious—it's critical.
Pastor Andrew is innocent. He is no terrorist. He is a father, a husband and a peaceful man of God. But he is facing what could amount to the rest of his life in prison.
We are working tirelessly to keep that from happening.
Pastor Andrew has already spent 18 months behind bars, locked away from his wife and children and the church family he pastored in Turkey for 23 years without incident. He has committed no crime or activities against the state. In fact, at the time of his arrest, he was applying for permanent residency in Turkey. It's where he lived and raised his family for over two decades.
To accuse him of "Christianization"—equating it to membership in an armed terrorist organization and military/political espionage against the people he'd come to love—is ludicrous. Pastor Andrew is on trial because of his Christian faith. Nothing more.
We've told you about the confounding 62-page indictment submitted by the prosecution which reads more like a rambling diatribe against Christianity—including an attack on Israel. Instead of real evidence of any crime, it offers hearsay from alleged "secret witnesses."
His freedom, as well as the rest of his life with his loved ones, is in jeopardy. Pastor Andrew may never touch American soil again unless the world intervenes.
We have learned that Senators Tillis and Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback are attending the pastor's trial in Turkey. Hopefully their physical presence might demonstrate to Turkey, and President Erdogan, how seriously the U.S. is taking this case, and how it might affect relations between our two countries.
"There should be no mistake that Pastor Brunson is the victim of false accusations, and we call upon the Turkish authorities to honestly and transparently review his indictment. Pastor Brunson is being used as a political pawn by some elements of the Turkish government."
The ACLJ has already taken Pastor Andrew's case to Capitol Hill, the White House and the United Nations. We accompanied Pastor Andrew's own daughter as she bravely addressed the U.N. Human Rights Council to ask for intervention on behalf of her dad. Even now, we are urging the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to act.
The eyes of the entire world need to be laser-focused on Turkey as the nations unite to demand this innocent man's release. We cannot tolerate a U.S. citizen being imprisoned for the rest of his life because of his Christian faith. It is a gross violation of his human rights and religious liberty.
We are not backing down. We need you right now. Be pastor Andrew's voice before it's too late.
For the original article, visit aclj.org.
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