US To Take ‘Imminent Action’ After Turkey Refuses To Release Jailed Pastor, Trump Lawyer Says
Jay Sekulow, a lawyer for President Donald Trump, said Wednesday that the U.S. government will take “imminent action” in response to a Turkish court’s decision to keep an American pastor jailed on bogus terrorism charges.
“The president is fully engaged with this,” Sekulow, a lawyer on Trump’s Russia team, said on his radio show. “Same is true for the vice president and secretary of state. They are all engaged right now on this situation.”
Sekulow’s non-profit, the American Center for Law & Justice, is also representing the jailed pastor, Andrew Brunson, against charges that he aided supporters of two groups the Turkish government considers to be terrorist organizations. (RELATED: Turkey Defies US Demands, Rules That American Pastor Will Stay In Jail)
A Turkish court decided on Wednesday that Brunson will remain in jail until his next hearing on Oct. 12.
Brunson, 50, was jailed in October 2016 along with his wife. Before their arrest, the pair operated Christian churches in Turkey for 23 years without incident.
The Turkish government has provided no evidence that Brunson helped terrorist groups. Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has also openly acknowledged that he is holding Brunson captive as leverage to get the U.S. to extradite Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric and Erdogan enemy who lives in exile in Pennsylvania.
Brunson is accused of helping Gulen’s network of followers, who are referred to in Turkey as the Fethullah Terrorist Organization, or FETO. Brunson is also accused of helping the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK).
Sekulow said Wednesday that the trial against Brunson was “a sham … from the outset.”
“It’s already decided they’re going to convict him, of course.”
Sekulow said while he doubts Brunson will be freed through judicial action, diplomatic measures might be effective.
He said Trump called Erdogan within the past 36 hours to ask for Brunson’s release.
The lawyer said he was limited on what information he could disclose about the diplomatic efforts but that he is aware of “multiple signals being received by our government and the Turkish government regarding some imminent action.” (RELATED: Trump Slams Turkey’s Imprisonment Of American Pastor)
“Imminent could be 24 hours, it could be 48 hours. It can reach a stall. We do not know,” he said, adding that “there are major diplomatic moves going on right now.”
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