German Pastor Hopeful in Fight to Remain in Turkey

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Wave of Christian expat expulsions leaves many churches without leaders.

A German pastor fighting expulsion from Turkey is hopeful that he may be the exception to a wave of foreign Christian leaders expelled from the country as “threats to national security.”

Though Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) has applied the label to pastor Michael Feulner, he told Morning Star News that a hearing last week gave him hope that a court will strike the “security threat” designation and allow him to stay.

Feulner said the three judges in the March 22 hearing in Ankara were much more open to reviewing evidence his attorney presented than judges were at a February hearing in Istanbul.

“I felt I was heard by the judges,” he said. “They asked the police department in Ankara if there was anything against me, and there was nothing. For this reason, I am hopeful they will hear our claim.”

One of the judges seemed to have a genuine interest in the merits of the case, he said. In the February hearing, judges gave the pastor’s attorney only 10 minutes to present his case. Then the court decided to withhold ruling on the deportation order until the Ankara court decided if the security designation was justified.

Advocacy group Middle East Concern (MEC) reported that Feulner’s attorney was able to present evidence that Turkey has long been aware of his ministry without objection, and that the security threat designation is a violation of religious freedom.

The judges then demanded that MIT produce “reasonable grounds” for the designation, according to MEC. Feulner is asking the court to strike down MIT’s claim that, without publicly issuing evidence, his existence in Turkey is a threat to the country’s national security.

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