American Pastor Andrew Brunson, wrongfully incarcerated in Turkey, was moved from Buca Prison to house arrest recently. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, “While this move is a positive development, it is not enough. We have seen no credible evidence against Mr. Brunson, and we call on Turkish authorities to resolve his case immediately in a transparent and fair manner.”
Vice President Mike Pence paid tribute to Pastor Brunson at the recent Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, describing him as an “American citizen who’s lived in Turkey for more than two decades, raising his family there, and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, faithfully, in his ministry.”
In 2016, Pastor Brunson was arrested by Turkish authorities, as part of a massive crackdown following a failed coup attempt. Tens of thousands of journalists, activists, judges, army officers, teachers, and others, including U.S. citizens, were arrested. Many remain imprisoned to this day.
Pastor Brunson was imprisoned without being charged for more than a year. And when the Turkish government finally indicted him on terrorism related charges, they also accused him of “dividing and separating” Turkey by simply spreading his Christian faith.
“Pastor Andrew Brunson is an innocent man,” declared Vice President Pence. That’s why the U.S. government has worked tirelessly to secure Pastor Brunson’s release – as well as the release of other Americans, including Serkan Golge, and U.S. Mission employees.
Vice President Pence sent a direct message on behalf of President Trump to Turkish President Recep Erdogan: “Release Pastor Andrew Brunson now, or be prepared to face the consequences. If Turkey does not take immediate action to free this innocent man of faith and send him home to America, the United States will impose significant sanctions on Turkey until Pastor Andrew Brunson is free.”
On August 1, The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control took action targeting Turkey’s Minister of Justice Abdulhamit Gul and Minister of Interior Suleyman Soylu, both of whom played leading roles in the organizations responsible for the arrest and detention of Pastor Andrew Brunson.
Advancing the cause of religious liberty is a just cause. “We’re advancing the first freedom that is essential to the people of all of our nations and to the world,” stressed Vice President Pence.
The American people cherish religious freedom. And they will always stand with people across the world who stand for their faith, like Pastor Brunson.