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The American pastor who has been imprisoned in Turkey accused of being involved in a political coup has had his first hearing today.
Andrew Brunson was arrested in 2016 while he was working as a missionary there and accused of partaking in terrorist organisations.
Daniel Hoffman, Executive Director of Middle East Concern, a Christian freedom group who are support Andrew and are in contact with him told Premier why they believe he is innocent: "He’s never been involved in any armed or even political activities and also when the indictment was finally released…there wasn’t really anything that corroborates any of the charges against him." He referred to charges where the witnesses were 'secret'.
Daniel Hoffman explained the latest in the case: “Today was the very first hearing, he appeared before the court, he strongly denied all the charges against him."
He described how the case could take two eyars or more, according to Brunson's lawyer but that there was some sign of light: "There are some hopes that he may be released – there was a slightly similar case of a German-Turkish journalist who had been in prison for more than a year and when his court case started he was released.”
Hoffman said it also may fall apart because of what they think is flimsy evidence: "The evidence is basically non-existent so there is a chance the court will acquit him as well – but you never know in Turkey.”
"The prosecutors are asking for up to 35 years in prison.”
Speaking of how the pastor was doing he said: "it has been a very difficult time for him, he lost quite a bit of weight. he was a lil bit nervous about today's hearing but at the same time he was relieved something was happening". He added that Andrew was strengthened by letters and prayers he had received.
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