It was only last week when we learned that efforts to have the charges against American Pastor Andrew Brunson dismissed in Turkey had been rejected. The falsely imprisoned pastor was returned to his prison cell after that. But now, with little warning, the situation in Turkey has changed. While not releasing him or dismissing the charges, a Turkish court has ordered Brunson moved to house arrest rather than remaining in his cell. It’s a humanitarian gesture which may indicate progress in our dealings with Turkish tyrant Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (Hurriyet Daily)
Andrew Brunson, an American pastor being tried on terrorism and spying charges, has been moved from prison to house arrest in Turkey after a court ruling on July 25.
Brunson, a Christian pastor from North Carolina who has lived in Turkey for more than two decades, was indicted on charges of having links with the Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ), which Ankara blames for the failed 2016 coup attempt, and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The Second High Penal Court in the western province of İzmir ruled on July 25 to move Brunson from prison to house arrest by imposing judicial control decision.
The court also banned Brunson from leaving Turkey.
Good, if not great news, but we should be asking what prompted this. Was it a random act of charity by one of their courts or is there something else going on behind the scenes? After last week’s kangaroo court hearings, President Trump issued yet another call for Brunson’s release. Also, the Senate approved a measure last month which included a provision to stop Turkey from buying F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets, citing Brunson’s imprisonment as a reason.
Is this pressure slowly getting Erdogan to change his mind? Has the President had someone dealing with the Turks in the background to secure his eventual release? And if that’s the case, what – if anything – are we offering in return? I assume that we’re not simply going to extradite Fethullah Gulen, nor would we be approving of Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system.
If President Trump is up to something here he’s certainly kept it close to the vest. And that would be surprising given his penchant for broadcasting good news on his Twitter feed. We’ll keep an eye on this as the situation develops, but for now it’s at least a step in the right direction.