Yesterday, a judge ordered Pastor Andrew to remain behind bars, despite intense international lobbying raising hopes he would be freed. Turkey has just declared an end to the national state of emergency imposed after the failed coup two years ago which Pastor Andrew is accused of backing.
Pastor Andrew, who leads a small church in Izmir and has lived in Turkey for 22 years, faces up to 35 years in jail if convicted of having links to those suspected of the 2016 coup. He has been charged with terrorism and espionage – charges he strongly denies.
Former members of his church are among those testifying against him, with what are described as ‘vague, unsubstantiated accusations’. When the judge invited Pastor Andrew to respond, he said, “My faith teaches me to forgive, so I forgive those who testified against me.”
Pastor Andrew’s lawyer claims that he should have been granted conditional release as the investigation into his case has been completed. Pastor Andrew has been in custody since October 2016 and is said to have suffered severe harassment and lost 22kg in weight.
President Trump and senior US officials have appealed directly to President Erdogan for his release. The fourth hearing in his case is scheduled for October 12.
Source: Release International