A North Carolina pastor who has been jailed in Turkey will go on trial next month on charges he is a terrorist who used Christianity as his weapon.
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That’s according to the indictment issued by a Turkish court earlier this week against Andrew Brunson, 50, who has been held by the Turkish government for a year and a half.
Brunson, a native of Black Mountain, a small town in western North Carolina, has lived and worked in Turkey for nearly 25 years. He faces a possible sentence of 35 years in prison.
Specifically, the Turkish prosecutors charged him with two crimes: membership in an armed terrorist organization and military espionage.
“They’ve basically equated Christianization with terrorism,” said CeCe Heil, executive senior counsel with the American Center for Law and Justice and Brunson’s U.S. attorney.
While Heil said she was not free to share the indictment, which her office translated from Turkish, she said Brunson is accused of being “an agent of unconventional warfare under the mask of being an evangelical church pastor.”
It further said his aim was “to advance the goals of groups designated by the Turkish government as armed terrorist organizations by means of Christianization using religious beliefs and sectarian differences to divide and separate the Turkish people.”