An American pastor in Turkey has been put behind bars for an alleged threat to national security. The charges against him are reportedly false.
“In the case of evangelical Pastor Brunson, pictured above with his wife, his detainment has been done entirely without legitimate charges. Christian workers in the region say that Turkey claims to have an unnamed source who says he overheard Brunson nearly a decade ago making a comment, which the government is now using to charge him with being a threat to national security,” Joel Richardson, a Christian author/filmmaker who constantly travels to Turkey and has contacts in the country, told reporters.
“He [ Pastor Brunson] is presently being detained indefinitely,” Richardson added.
Pastor Andrew Brunson has been a missionary in Turkey for over 23 years. He is a U.S. citizen from Black Mountain, North Carolina, media reports confirm.
The 48-year-old pastor so much loves Turkish people, having raised his three kids there though they are now studying in the United States.
Some Christian human-rights lawyers who are protesting Brunson’s arrest have called on the U.S. government to step us against what they referred to as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s brutal crackdown on religious minorities and dissidents. The group said their client’s life is in “great danger”, adding that he’s more likely to become a casualty of the president’s brutality.
Since the widely publicized failed coup against his government five months ago, Erdogan has over-stepped his boundaries on human rights in order to ward off future attempts.
According to a report from WND, the missionary’s problems started on 7 October when he was tricked with an invitation to a government office. He was notified that his application for a permanent residency card which has been rejected over the years, had finally been approved.
The excited pastor honored their invitation without knowing that he was walking into a trap. “Instead he was detained and ‘falsely accused of membership in an armed terrorist organization,'” the American Center for Law and Justice said in a statement.
Brunson’s wife, Norine, was also arrested but released on Oct. 19. She was offered an extended permit to remain in the country while her husband has been behind bars since 20 October. He’s being held at the Harmandali Detention Center on the northern edge of Izmir, reports confirm.
The pastor’s case seem to have taken a new twist since 8 December when he was hurriedly moved to a new location at the country’s counter-terrorism center. The following day, he was arraigned before an Izmir court.
Sadly, Brunson has so far spent over 70 days in solitary at the Turkish prison. Worse still, he has been denied access to a Bible. His watch, pen, phone and eye-glasses were also confiscated.
According to the report, Erdogan’s Islamic regime has ensured that Brunson will get no legal representation from his Turkish lawyer.
The ACLJ, a human rights group which has fought for persecuted Christians around the world, said they’re seeking ways to get Brunson out of prison.
“We are representing the family of an American pastor who is facing grave danger in a Turkish prison where he is being held simply because of his Christian beliefs,” said Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the ACLJ.
“The government of Turkey – led by an Islamic party – has begun increased crackdowns on Christians, and Pastor Andrew, if convicted, may face years in prison based on extremely serious – and false – charges,” Sekulow added. “We are launching a global campaign to call attention to his plight demanding that Turkey – a NATO member – release Pastor Andrew without delay.”
While ACLJ and other human rights groups are fighting for the pastor who was imprisoned on trumped-up charges, Richardson continued in his interview with WND saying: “As the Obama Administration expels its final gasp bitterly trying to damage the incoming Trump presidency, they have been entirely silent concerning the deeply alarming and unjust imprisonment of American Pastor Andrew Brunson by the government of Turkey.
“Instead, the Obama administration is squandering its final weeks in office suddenly making much noise about Russian interference in the U.S. elections – although the Obama administration knew about these things for nearly the last two years,” Richardson told WND.
The U.S. President Barack Obama has named Turkish President Erdogan as one one of his “best friends” among other international leaders. However, it remains unknown why he has decided to be silent on Brunson’s case.