An American pastor, Andrew Brunson, has been falsely charged with “membership in an armed terrorist organization.” Turkey has imprisoned this American pastor without any evidence. He has been a Christian pastor in Turkey for the past 23 years. – from the American Center for Law and Justice
In another infuriating display of President Obama’s apathetic attitude towards the plight of U.S. citizens abroad, a story about an American pastor in Turkey is enraging people this week.
Pastor Andrew Brunson is an American missionary who has lived and ministered in Turkey for the last 23 years, leading Izmir Resurrection Church in the city of Izmir. He has been a law-abiding resident who has never run afoul of local authorities until he was summoned to his local police station in October. Pastor Brunson went to the police station believing he was being called in to discuss approval for his request to become a permanent resident; instead, he was arrested and has been imprisoned ever since.
Pastor Andrew Brunson – a U.S. citizen from Black Mountain, North Carolina – was summoned to the local police station in Izmir, Turkey on the morning of October 7, 2016. He believed he would be receiving a long awaited permanent residence card. Pastor Brunson, who is a U.S. citizen, has been living in Turkey for 23 years, running a Christian church with the full knowledge of local authorities.
Upon arriving at the station, he was informed he was being deported based on being a “threat to national security,” a common excuse for deportation in Turkey. It became clear that he was being arrested and would be detained until deportation. He was fingerprinted, searched, and had his phone, pen, etc. taken away. He was denied a Bible. But instead of being deported, he was held with no charges for 63 days, during which time he was denied access to his Turkish attorney. He was placed in solitary confinement for part of this time, with his glasses and watch confiscated.
Then on December 8th, after being detained for 63 days, things took a dire turn. In the middle of the night, Pastor Andrew was taken to a counter terrorism center in Izmir and then on to court. He was questioned and has been falsely charged with “membership in an armed terrorist organization.” The charging documents state no “evidence has been gathered” against him. A Turkish judge had the option to deport Pastor Andrew, release him on weekly sign-ins at the local police station, or imprison him. The judge chose to remand Pastor Andrew to prison.
Lawyers and activists from various organizations, including the American Center for Law and Justice, have petitioned the Obama administration for help but to no avail. The administration seems to have little time to give in helping to free an innocent man from wrongful imprisonment in a Muslim nation, which is why the ACLJ is now reaching out to President-elect Trump to get help for Pastor Brunson.
The Daily Caller reported on Friday that Jordan Sekulow of the ACLJ had been in contact with the Trump transition team in hopes that the incoming President may be more interested than our current president has been.
“We’ve reached out, and they’re obviously aware,” Jordan Sekulow, the executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice, says of the case of Andrew Brunson, a native of North Carolina who has served as a missionary in Turkey for 23 years.
“We haven’t seen the engagement from our highest level officials. They’re on their way out, and it doesn’t seem like necessarily it’s on their priority list,” Sekulow added of the outgoing Obama administration.
“It’s going to take more action from the Trump administration.”
Sekulow says that the Turkish government is operating more in the manner of a totalitarian regime than a NATO ally.
“We expect that from plenty of other countries, but with Turkey, that’s a next level of low when you’re talking about a NATO ally,” Sekulow tells TheDC.
“It should not be like dealing with Iran or North Korea or Sudan.”
Sekulow says that Turkey’s switch from holding Brunson for deportation to casting him as a terrorist could indicate that they view him as a bargaining chip.
“I think that over time these officials going up the chain realized ‘maybe we can get something out of this,’” Sekulow said.
Pastor Brunson now sits in a Turkish prison in constant danger and being threatened by the government as a member of an armed terrorist organization. Please contact your local, state, and national representatives and urge them to act on Pastor Brunson’s behalf. The world continues to grow ever more dangerous for Christians and Americans, and if our government refuses to act decisively to protect our citizens, these kinds of situations will begin happening more and more frequently.
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