US Pastor Brunson’s Daughter: My Father is Used as a Bargaining Chip
The daughter of jailed American pastor Andrew Brunson, who caused a recent tension anb bilateral economic sanctions between Turkey and the U.S., spoke about her father’s prosecution at a panel discussion held by the U.S. State Department on Tuesday, saying Brunson is being used as a “bargaining chip”.
Claiming that there is no physical evidence against her father, who is facing up to 35 years in prison on charges of “espionage” and “terrorism” in relation to July 15, 2016 coup attempt in Turkey, Jacqueline Furnari said:
“It is important to note that during these three [hearing] dates, there has not been one prosecution witness that has been able to provide one shred of evidence that support their ridiculous testimony — a fact that my father pointed out during the May 7 trial date and a fact that none of the judges on the panel seem to care about”.
She also asserted that the head judge in the trial personally told Brunson that “all the prosecution’s witness testimony is simply being taken as truth therefore there is no need for any evidence.”
Calling the accusations in Brunson’s two-year prosecution as “baseless charges”, Furnari said “It’s a sham trial, and my dad is being used as a bargaining chip and suffering for Jesus Christ.”
Stating that her father missed her graduation ceremony and her wedding, as well as her grandfather’s funeral service, Furnari said she hopes her father is released at his next court hearing on October 12, and called on everyone to pray for him.
Mike Pompeo: We are sparing no effort to return Pastor Brunson home
Furnari’s speech followed a statement from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday, where he said that the Trump administration continues to push for Brunson’s release.
“We are sparing no effort to return Pastor Brunson home to the United States,” Pompeo said at the annual Values Voter Summit.
Addressing a mostly Christian conservative audience at the event, Pompeo said of Brunson “The work is important. He has been wrongly held and his proper place is to be able to return here to once again practice his faith in our great nation. Know this, President Trump will never forget about our own.”
Brunson, who has been under arrest since December 9, 2016, was at the center of a recent diplomatic crisis between Turkey and the U.S., when President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence threatened Turkey with “consequences”, demanding the pastor’s immeditate release.
With Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan refusing to free Brunson,Turkey placed the pastor under house arrest due to U.S. pressure.
The move did not stop the U.S. from introducing a number of economic sanctions on Turkey, which promptly retaliated.