A United Nations has concluded Turkey must pay reparations to American pastor Andrew Brunson for arresting him and detaining him for two years “on the basis of his nationality and faith.”
Brunson was arrested on unsubstantiated claims he had links to terrorism. He was released last October after the American Center for Law and Justice carried out “a multi-pronged global legal advocacy campaign.”
As part of its effort, ACLJ asked the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Decisions to investigate.
The panel concluded:
“The deprivation of liberty of Andrew Craig Brunson, being in contravention of articles 3, 9 and 10 of the University Declaration of Human Rights and articles 9 and 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, is arbitrary and falls with categories I, III and V.
“The Working Group requests the government of Turkey to take the steps necessary to remedy the situation of Mr. Brunson without delay and bring it into conformity with the relevant international norms, including those set out in the University Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
“The Working Group considers that, taking into account all the circumstances of the case, the appropriate remedy would be to expunge Mr. Brunson’s criminal record and accord him an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations, in accordance with international law.”
ACLJ’s CeCe Heil worked on the case.
“I was able to meet with the WGAD last year in Geneva to personally advance Pastor Brunson’s complaint and shortly after our meeting, they decided to investigate the case. We filed voluminous responses and accompanying evidence to Turkey’s submissions and updated the WGAD as Pastor Brunson’s case progressed. The WGAD reviewed all of the documents and found Turkey guilty of arbitrarily detaining Pastor Brunson. The WGAD’s official opinion, released today, provides: ‘The Working Group is therefore of the view that the [ACLJ] has made a credible submission that the arrest and detention of Mr. Brunson was the result of him being targeted by the Turkish authorities on the basis of his nationality and faith and thus resulted from discrimination expressly prohibited under the covenant.'”
The U.N. group asks for followup information, including “whether Mr. Brunson’s criminal record has been expunged, and whether compensation or other reparations have been made to him.”
The U.N. panel noted an increasing number of cases targeting Christians by Turkish authorities in recent years.
After his release, the Christian pastor said he believed his prison ordeal was part of a much bigger plan God has for Turkey and the Middle East.
“We are so grateful to the people who prayed for us,” he told Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice on the “Sekulow Live” radio show.
But the 53-year-old North Carolina native said he believes the impact of the prayers of many around the world went beyond releasing him from prison.
“It’s almost like we’re looking at a puzzle from the bottom side. Someday, we’ll look from the top and see the full picture,” Brunson said.
“Right now we don’t see the full picture, but God was doing much more than using prayers to release me from prison,” he said.
“I think he was pouring prayer from God’s people into Turkey and into the Middle East, and there is going to be a great harvest from this.”
Brunson had been held since October 2016 on unsubstantiated charges of terrorism and espionage by the hardline regime of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who wanted to exchange the pastor for a Muslim cleric in the U.S. accused by Turkey of masterminding the failed 2016 coup.
Trump said after Brunson’s release that there was no “deal” made with Turkey, as media had reported. But the president said: “We spoke to Turkey. He went through a system, and we got him out.”
Brunson was convicted by a Turkish court on terror-related charges the U.S. said were bogus and politically motivated, and sentenced to a little more than three years in prison. The judge released him for time served, and he immediately was flown to Germany for a medical exam at Ramstein Air Base. He arrived shortly later in Washington and soon found himself in the Oval Office, where he prayed for President Trump.