Turkey: Turkish Authority Holds American Pastor in a 'Sham' Case

American pastor Andrew Brunson is facing several more months in prison after being remanded by a Turkish court on Wednesday, in what a U.S. law group is calling a "fabricated" and "ridiculous" trial that again failed to produce evidence against him.

"We are very upset that he was not released, outraged that Turkey is allowed to continue to carry on this sham," American Center for Law and Justice Senior Counsel CeCe Heil told The Christian Post on Thursday.

Following the July 18 hearing, Heil noted that the whole world can now see that Turkey's court case against Brunson is little more than a sham.

"From the beginning, we have known that there is no case against pastor Brunson. The fact that it took them over a year-and-a-half to even get an indictment out and really officially charge him with any crime — we knew that they were trying to fabricate a case," she said.

"Now we have seen three trial dates, April 16, May 7, and July 18, yesterday, where anybody can see that there is no case against pastor Brunson."

Brunson has been in prison since October 2016, when he was arrested and later indicted on terrorism charges relating to alleged connections with Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania but is accused by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of staging a failed coup in the country in the summer of 2016.

The pastor, who led Izmir Resurrection Church for over two decades before his arrest, has denied all charges, arguing that he is being held for his faith in Jesus Christ.

"The prosecution's witnesses are secret witnesses and they have been completely discredited. They have no witnesses; not one witness has been able to provide a shred of evidence to back up their ridiculous allegations, and pastor Brunson has basically and effectively been denied [the opportunity] to put on a defense," Heil told CP.

"So what had happened yesterday is not a shock, in that we know that there is no real trial going on here."

Pastor Bill Devlin from Infinity Bible Church in New York City traveled to Aliaga for the hearing. He told CP that a pastor and a woman were allowed to testify in defense of Brunson on Wednesday but the prosecution brought forward three "false witnesses" who didn't offer any firsthand information about the accusations against Brunson.

Significant hopes had been raised in the weeks leading up to Wednesday's hearing that Brunson might be released.

Turkish newspaper the Hurriyet Daily News even reported that diplomats in Ankara, the capital, were expecting his potential release, given the pressure U.S. lawmakers are putting on Turkey.