Pastor Andrew’s Trial Takes Bleak Turn – Judge Refuses Release, Delay’s Trial, Returns Pastor to Grim Turkish Prison
After one day of trial, the situation just took a bleak turn for Pastor Andrew.
At the conclusion of the first day of his trial – a day filled with video testimony of secret prosecution witnesses whose voices and appearances were disguised – the Turkish judge ordered that Pastor Andrew be returned to the notoriously overcrowded and grim prison, where Pastor Brunson was originally imprisoned. The judge refused to release Pastor Andrew.
The judge ordered that the trial not resume until May 7th.
The delay and return to a much worse prison is an escalation of his case.
Pastor Andrew is on trial because of his Christian faith. The 62-page indictment accuses him of the supposed “crime” of “Christianization,” calling it an act of terror. If convicted, he faces a 35-year prison sentence – which for the 50-year-old pastor is essentially a life sentence.
Today’s ruling sends him back to a prison he had been in months ago – a prison that is severely overcrowded with almost two dozen inmates packed into a small cell.
This places Pastor Andrew in further danger.
ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow stated:
Instead of being returned to the prison where he had been held most recently, the judge ordered Pastor Andrew to be taken back to an overcrowded and extremely grim prison where he was held initially. As you can imagine, the news is devastating to Pastor Andrew and his family.
At the American Center for Law and Justice – we are stepping up our aggressive campaign to secure the freedom of Pastor Andrew. Between now and the next court date of May 7th – we have an important opportunity – to turn up the pressure on the Turkish government.
The next three weeks are critical for Pastor Andrew and his family. Stand with the ACLJ as we work on the international front as well as at the highest levels of our government to keep Pastor Andrew's case in the headlines. We are grateful for everyone who has stood with us during the legal battle. But these next three weeks are VERY CRITICAL. We have to turn up the pressure – work even harder to secure the release of Pastor Andrew.
We are aggressively fighting for his freedom. We must increase the diplomatic pressure on Turkey to release this innocent U.S. citizen. The fact that Senator Tillis – Pastor Andrew’s home state Senator – and Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback were present at today’s trial is an important step.
Turkey must understand that as a NATO ally it cannot be allowed to continue wrongfully imprisoning an innocent U.S. citizen.
We are aggressively working in Congress, with the State Department and the White House, and at the U.N. to fight for Pastor Andrew’s freedom. He needs your voice now more than ever.