Andrew Brunson is an American pastor whose imprisonment by Turkey on charges of espionage has led to tension with the United States

From NPR:

Brunson, 50, is originally from North Carolina and has lived in Turkey for more than two decades. He was swept up by Turkish authorities along with journalists, activists, military officers and others in a government crackdown following a failed military coup attempt in 2016.


From The Guardian:

He is on trial over allegations of espionage on behalf of Kurdish insurgents and the Fethullah Gülen network, a movement that is widely believed to have orchestrated a coup attempt in 2016.


Is there any basis to these charges? What is the evidence against him? Has there been a trial?

  • I am kind of new but can nonvoters tell me what I did wrong? Some source says he's convicted of 35 years. Another said there's no trial yet.
    – user4951
    Aug 19, 2018 at 9:35
  • 1
    Well, you're not that new, you have been around for three years now. I didn't vote, but if you have a source that says he has been convicted for 35 years, you haven't mentioned it in your question.
    – James K
    Aug 19, 2018 at 11:06
  • The article that you link to only quotes Mike Pence for the "is jailed for dividing Turkey and for espionage" and does not provide any reference from the Turkish government or even Brunson's lawyer. It is far from clear to me if the statement refers to the actual charges being pressed, or if just Mike Pence's interpretation/assesment of the situation, yet you state it as being a factual truth... You should be more careful with your wording, specially when only one side of the account is available.
    – SJuan76
    Aug 19, 2018 at 11:20
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    As a source for the 35 year figure, theguardian.com/world/2018/jul/25/… has "Turkish prosecutors are seeking a maximum prison sentence of 35 years for the pastor," but doesn't make any claim be has been convicted
    – PhillS
    Aug 19, 2018 at 11:32
  • This article has more detail on the indictement; a lot of it is extremenly circumstantial, but then that's about about par in Turkey these days. skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/41781/… What's more interesting to me is that Trump didn't care much about a NASA scientist held in Turkey. Not Trump's constituency, I guess. Aug 19, 2018 at 19:35

2 Answers 2


Andrew Brunson has been indicted, that is formally accused of a crime in a court. In this process, evidence is presented to a Judge, but much is kept confidential. American observers have suggested that such evidence that there may be against him is circumstantial at best. Mr Brunson has denied all charges.

A trial was originally scheduled for July but has since been delayed until October 2018 at the earliest.

He was detained in prison from his arrest to 25 July, when he was placed in house arrest for medical reasons.

  • 2
    He was detained in prison in October 2016 (after the failed coup attempt in Turkey) but moved to house arrest on 25 July 2018 because of health issues, so he is no longer strictly in prison.
    – PhillS
    Aug 19, 2018 at 11:29
  • And house arrest means he's pretty much free. Not like he's going out of Turkey anyway. Very light punishment.
    – user4951
    Aug 20, 2018 at 8:27
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    No, house arrest is the exact opposite of "pretty much free". He hasn't been offered bail because he is considered a flight risk.
    – James K
    Aug 20, 2018 at 9:46

Only thing certain is that Brunson had connections with Gülen movement

As you may know, Gülen is an arch-enemy of Turkish president Erdoğan. They were once allies, but things deteriorated so much that Erdoğan suspect Gülen of being prime organizer of failed coup against him. Without going into too much details, official Turkish narrative is that Gülen's supporters organized this coup, with the help of certain Western countries (i.e. US) . What further complicates the matter is that Gülen lives in US, and US refuses to extradite him to Turkey.

What about Brunson ? From the Turkish sources, they have concrete evidence that Brunson received donations from members of Gülen movement (despite Brunson denying this). This of course doesn't prove much, but rest of the evidence is withheld from public for now. Of course, there are wild speculations that Brunson is CIA resident in Turkey for 20+ years, fueled by the fact that we really don't know much about him, despite him being in the center of major international scandal.

Brunson has been released from prison recently, and is currently in house arrest. His trial should begin in October this year. By that time more details could emerge about his case, if some kind of the deal for his release is not achieved.

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