The Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, regrets the ongoing travesty of justice that is the Turkish government’s treatment of US Protestant Pastor Andrew Brunson, an evangelical Protestant pastor from the United States who was held in a Turkish prison on spurious terrorism charges. This affair is confirmation of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)’s judgment in its 2019 Annual Report that Turkey is a Tier 2 violator of religious freedom — that is, a nation in which religious freedom violations are systematic, ongoing, and/or egregious.
We still hold out hope and continue our prayers that the Turkish government will realize the injustice of its position regarding Pastor Brunson, grant full religious freedom to all the Christians of Turkey, and end the unjust treatment of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
“Turkey Rejects Brunson’s Rights Violation Claim,” International Christian Concern, January 8, 2021:
01/08/2021 Turkey (International Christian Concern) – Yesterday, Turkey’s constitutional court overturned an appeal made by US Pastor Andrew Brunson over rights violations on the basis that it was “inadmissible” and openly groundless.
Pastor Brunson was arrested in December 2016 and was charged with espionage and committing crimes in the name of a terrorist organization as a non-member. He was subsequently convicted and issued a prison sentence. He was widely considered a political hostage, and part of a broader trend in Turkey to hold Christians captive to leverage political goals (for more information, see ICC’s joint report: Turkey Challenges Facing Christians 2016-2020).
The prison sentence against Pastor Brunson remains although he now lives in the United States. The appeal was made on the basis that his arrest was unlawful and exceeded the legal limit of detention, thereby violating his right to freedom.
In their ruling regarding the appeal, the constitutional court said, “When the characteristics of the concrete case are taken into account, it cannot be said that the judicial control measure implemented by the İzmir 2nd Heavy Penal Court on the applicant was disproportional…