Turkey: Congress members urge release of Christian Pastor
February 20, 2017
78 Members of Congress united to push for the release of a Christian pastor in a Turkish prison on false terrorism charge because of his Christian faith.
Over three months ago family members, church members and attorneys were hoping for a safe deportation process, today the waiting goes on. 78 members of Congress have signed a letter to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urging him to release Pastor Andrew Brunson, a U.S. Citizen from North Carolina. Brunson and his wife, Norine, were reportedly summoned in October to discuss their application to renew their visas, but were instead arrested by Turkish police. While Norine was released 13 days later, Brunson was charged with having links to terror organizations, something which both the ACLJ and the ICC said is a common accusation in Turkey against individuals the government wants to target. According to International Christian Concern, Brunson led a Protestant church in Izmir, Turkey.
Pastor Branson has been serving the Turkish people for more than two decades. Back in October TRUNEWS was told by officials at World Evangelical Alliance that the focus was to get the couple through the deportation process safely. Branson was being held incommunicado, attorneys were not allowed to speak with him. His family and attorneys were just waiting for a deportation to be ordered and that the American pastor would return home in a matter of days, but here is February of a new year and the waiting has urged members of Congress to send a letter to the Turkish president. It reads in part,
“Mr. Brunson has been unjustly held since his arrest in October and has been denied regular and appropriate access to legal counsel and American consular services,”
An article by The Christian Post highlights that the pastor has spent “Thanksgiving, Christmas, and his birthday locked away in a prison cell in Turkey, the only Christian among 19 prisoners confined in a 10-person cell,” according to the American Center for Law and Justice, which, too, has been working to secure the pastor’s release.
“Mr. Brunson’s imprisonment has been raised repeatedly by me and U.S. officials with the government of Turkey. We join together in urging for his prompt release to the United States,” Republican Sen. Bob Corker from Tennessee wrote in a Facebook post about the letter to the Turkish president.
“There appears to be no evidence to substantiate the charges against him for membership in an armed terrorist organization,” the letter to the Turkish president states. “The United States and Turkey have benefited from a close partnership for decades, and we hope to be in a position to continue strengthening these ties. Now is the time for our countries to reaffirm respect for fundamental freedoms and the rule of law while reasserting our shared commitment to addressing security challenges through partnerships and cooperation.”
The Christian Post reports that in coordination with the letter from Congress, the ACLJ is sending a letter to the new secretary of state, Rex Tillerson.
“He is awaiting trial, and if convicted under these false charges, could face years of imprisonment, even though his Turkish attorney cannot review his case file,” the letter says.
Original article by The Christian Post / TRUNEWS summary.
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