The plight of American missionary Rev. Andrew Brunson has recently come to my attention . . . S.L.
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.
During the initial 63 days of his detention, Brunson was denied access to his Turkish attorney. He was placed in solitary confinement for part of this time, with his glasses and watch confiscated.
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.”
Senator James Lankford (Republican - Oklahoma) traveled to the Turkish capital Ankara in December where he met with the Department of Justice officials, Fox News reported: “For the first time, we learned what these charges are,” Lankford told Fox News. “They were given to me orally.”
Lankford told Fox News that Turkish authorities alleged Brunson had helped Kurdish refugees — Turkey labels the Kurds an insurgent group — and that the pastor attended a conference put on by Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen, whom the Turkish government accused of plotting the 2016 coup from Pennsylvania where he now lives.
Reverend Andrew Brunson remains in Turkish custody at the time of this writing.