A Turkish court ordered Andrew Brunson returned to prison on July 18, and set his next hearing for October 12. The EPC Teaching Elder is being tried on charges of espionage and aid to terrorist groups.
“I am deeply saddened by this morning’s ruling,” said Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk. “Thankfully, our Lord was not surprised and continues to be in control of the situation. Our disappointment today is matched by our resolve to continue to pray and advocate for Andrew and Norine.”
Bill Campbell, Pastor of Hendersonville (N.C.) Presbyterian Church, attended the hearing in Aliaga, Turkey.
“As usual, there was much spurious testimony against Andrew,” Campbell said via encrypted text message following adjournment of the proceedings. “Andrew’s testimony was absolutely powerful. He presented the gospel with confidence and defended himself with boldness.”
News media present for the trial reported that the court heard testimony from three witnesses for the prosecution, and one for the defense—marking the first time in the trial’s three hearings that the judge permitted a defense witness to speak.
“The court allowed a favorable witness,” Campbell said, “and one who was to speak against him actually spoke in Andrew’s favor. It felt like they had decided the outcome before the trial.”
Media reported that the judge asked Brunson to reply to the witnesses, several of whom were former members of the Izmir Resurrection Church which Brunson led for more than 20 years.
“My faith teaches me to forgive, so I forgive those who testified against me,” Brunson said.
Media also noted that he waved at supporters after the hearing, saying only “thank you” in English.