Andrew Brunson, a US citizen who has lived in Turkey for 23 years has appeared before a court in Izmir where he stands accused of being a member of the terrorist group FETO, spying on the Republic of Turkey and proclaiming public support for the terror group PKK. Addressing the court in fluent Turkish, Brunson denied all of the charges and lambasted the accusations as “lies”.
Brunson claims he is merely a Protestant preacher with a congregation in Izmir, a city known as a hotbed of seditious FETO activity. According to GSM (mobile phone) records, Brunson was recorded as being in the direct vicinity of a known FETO ringleader and fugitive of justice Bekir Baz. Brunson denies having any contact with Baz or any other FETO member even though the GSM records indicate that they have been in one another’s immediate proximity on 293 occasions.
In addition to widening the rift between the US and Turkey, the former being accused of either directly aiding or being sympathetic to FETO, the Brunson case has also highlighted US double-standards when it comes to bringing terrorists to justice. The US prison at Guantanamo Bay which former US President Obama promised to close, remains home to men detained without charge and without trail due to suspicions of membership in terrorist organisations. This is why it is all the more inappropriate for Donald Trump to Tweet his opinion that Brunson is innocent prior to a verdict being decided upon in a Turkish court.
Pastor Andrew Brunson, a fine gentleman and Christian leader in the United States, is on trial and being persecuted in Turkey for no reason. They call him a Spy, but I am more a Spy than he is. Hopefully he will be allowed to come home to his beautiful family where he belongs!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 18, 2018
As opposed to those detained without charge in Guantanamo Bay, Brunson has been charged with specific offences and is currently in court where he is exercising his right under Turkish law to defend what he claims is his innocence. In sending a Tweet voicing his own opinions on Brunson’s alleged innocence, Donald Trump is actively meddling in a judicial process in Turkey and is consequently attempting to influence the decision of Turkish judges who must impartially rule on the matter of extremely serious charges levelled against Brunson.
Turkey must not cave to pressure from the US to disregard its own judicial independence and in so doing, letting a possible terrorist go free. Justice must be allowed to run its course and Donald Trump must learn the art of restraint in such matters.