WASHINGTON, D.C. (WordNews.org) Dec. 15, 2016 – Pastor Andrew Brunson, a U.S. citizen from Black Mountain, N.C., who is being held against his will in Turkey because of his profession of faith, has a new ally working for his release.
The American Center for Law and Justice announced it is actively defending Brunson, who was being held in a detention center for the past two months and was recently transferred to a counter-terrorism prison days ago.
ACLJ is launching an international campaign to free Brunson, calling on the U.S. State Department, the United Nations, NATO members and other international organizations to demand Brunson’s release.
“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. We are launching a global campaign to call attention to his plight demanding that Turkey – a NATO member – release Pastor Andrew without delay.”
Brunson’s daughter Jacqueline, an 18-year-old college student, said “the best Christmas present our family could receive this year is the release of my father.”
“It is both troubling and disturbing that my father, who has called Turkey home for the last 23 years, is imprisoned without cause,” she said. “I grew up in Turkey and saw firsthand how much he loves Turkey and the Turkish people. He has exhibited nothing but love, mercy and grace during his time there. Our family is shocked by this latest development and we urge the government to release him immediately.”
On Oct. 7, Brunson was summoned to appear at the local police station in Izmir, Turkey. He thought he was to receive a permanent resident card, which he had been seeking for a long period of time. But when he arrived at the station, he was informed that he was being deported and accused of being a “threat to national security.”
Brunson, a U.S. citizen, has been living in Turkey for 23 years and running a Christian church with the full knowledge of local authorities, ACLJ said. At the time, it appeared that Brunson would be detained until he was deported. Brunson was fingerprinted and searched and then spent two months in isolation without being charged. He had his phone and other personal items confiscated and has been denied a Bible.
But on Dec. 8, the situation grew worse when Brunson was carted off to a counter-terrorism center and taken to court, accused of “membership in an armed terrorist organization.”
In a statement, Brunson’s family said: Andrew’s strong faith has always been at the center of his life and that has never been more evident than his pastorship in Turkey. His love and concern for the people of Turkey is unmistakable, as he has dedicated 23 years of his life serving them. That is what makes his imprisonment and the unfounded charges so unbelievable and shocking. This development is not only troubling but places him in grave danger. We are working to secure his freedom and will not rest until Andrew is free. We’re grateful for the support of the ACLJ and others who are working to demand that Turkey release Andrew without delay.”