U.S. Pastor Still Being Held in a Turkish Jail

The Turkish Government accused him of being linked to terror groups.

A court in Turkey rejected the release of U.S. pastor Andrew Craig Brunson on July 18. The North Carolina born Christian was indicted on multiple charges of assisting the Gulen Network, an organization blamed by the Turkish Government for the country's internal unrest. The 50-year-old evangelical was also linked with the government outlawed PKK or Kurdistan Workers' Party. If convicted, Brunson could spend the next 35 years of his life in jail. His lawyer had requested the U.S. citizen be freed conditionally on the trial's outcome.

Turkish media reported that Brunson wore a white shirt complemented by a dark suit in the courtroom. The American, now a resident of Turkey for over 20 years, answered the Judge and other court officials in fluent Turkish. He told them it is hard for him to be incarcerated and be separated from his family. Brunson pointed out the lack of concrete evidence against him. He brought forward his evangelical knowledge, comparing himself to the early Christians. The pastor said it is now his turn to suffer as the early Christians suffered on Christ's behalf.

The U.S. Government has thrown its full weight on Turkey to secure Pastor Brunson's release. President Donald J. Trump issued his customary support tweet on the night of July 18, terming Brunson's jail time a “total disgrace.” Trump tweeted that the pastor has done no wrong and Brunson's family needs a father and a husband.

President Trump has discussed the Brunson case among many issues with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the President of Turkey. U.S. Embassy charge d'affaires, Philip Kosnett, expressed disappointment with the church ruling. He added that Washington is extremely concerned about Brunson's status and about the status of other U.S. citizens in Turkey along with the local employees of U.S. consulate detained under an emergency regulation.

In his tweet, the leader of the free world said the Turkish supremo should take the needed action to free Brunson, whom Trump described as a “wonderful Christian.” The US President asserted that the pastor has been locked in jail for too long.

Turkey is already feeling the heat. A bill passed by the U.S. Senate inserted a measure prohibiting Turkey from purchasing F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft due to Brunson's imprisonment. Washington has also put in roadblocks to Turkey's Russian made S-400 air defense technology purchase.

Resources

Follow the Conversation on Twitter