American pastor Andrew Brunson, who’s been imprisoned in Turkey on terrorism charges that are obviously bogus, has turned to the White House for help and pleaded, in a letter from jail, for President Donald Trump to use his position of power to secure his freedom.
Brunson, from North Carolina, has been in jail in Turkey since October, when he and his wife were detained for immigration violations. The couple, who’ve lived in Turkey for the last 23 years, were working out of a Christian church in Izmir, on the west coast, when authorities contacted them over questions about their immigration status.
Authorities let Brunson’s wife, Norine, go free, but put him in jail. And shortly after, Turkish authorities then added the charge of terrorism to his rap sheet.
“Brunson has no known ties to terrorist groups, and the Turkish government has not produced any evidence to show that he does. Prosecutors have suggested in court hearings that Brunson is being held on suspicion of being a follower of Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric living in self-exile in Pennsylvania.
“Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has labeled Gulen a terrorist and believes he was behind a failed coup attempt in July.
“There has been some speculation that the Turkish government is holding Brunson as a bargaining chip in its effort to force the U.S. government to extradite Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric living in self-exile in Pennsylvania. The Erdogan regime has begged both the Obama and Trump administrations to deport Gulen back to Turkey to face trial.
“In his letter, which was given to U.S. embassy officials during a recent meeting with Brunson, the pastor calls himself a political prisoner and says that the Turkish government should face consequences for jailing him without cause.
“‘Will the Turkish government face no consequence for stubbornly continuing to hold an American citizen as a political prisoner?’ Brunson asks in the letter, which was published by the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a non-profit group helping the pastor.
“Since being imprisoned on Oct. 7, the ‘Turkish government has produced no proof and has rebuffed numerous attempts by the American government to secure my return to the United States,’ says Brunson.
“‘In fact they are treating the US government with contempt and paying no price for it.’
“‘I plead with my government — with the Trump Administration — to fight for me. I ask the State Department to impose sanctions. I appeal to President Trump: please help me. Let the Turkish government know that you will not cooperate with them in any way until they release me. Please do not leave me here in prison.’
The American Center for Law and Justice jumped to Brunson’s defense, appealing for the U.S. government to step in and obtain his freedom.