(EPC Press Release).
Rev. Andrew Brunson, a pastor from Black Mountain, N.C., has been charged in Turkey with membership in an armed terrorist organization and sent to prison. Brunson is a Teaching Elder in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church and has lived in Turkey since 1993. During that time, he has served as pastor of two Protestant congregations and worked among refugees and in other humanitarian efforts.
Brunson had been held without charge in a detention center in Izmir, Turkey, since October 7. He was interrogated without notice on December 9 and imprisoned.
The Brunson family has retained the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which is active in defending persecuted Christians around the globe, as their legal counsel and leaders of the public campaign for Andrew’s release.
In a statement, ACLJ Executive Director Jordan Sekulow said Brunson is “facing grave danger in a Turkish prison where he is being held simply because of his Christian beliefs,” adding that if convicted, he could may face years in prison based on extremely serious—but false—charges.
At the time of Brunson’s detention in October, his activities were considered by the Turkish government to be “against national security.” However, no other reason was given for Andrew’s incarceration and no formal charges had been filed against him.
As of December 8, he had been held without charges for 63 days. In more than two months of detention, Andrew has been permitted only two U.S. consular visits.
The U.S. State Department, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and other U.S. government officials have been working with EPC leaders to gain Brunson’s release.
The Brunson family issued a statement December 14 in which they thanked those working to secure Andrew’s freedom. “We will not rest until Andrew is free,” they said. “We’re grateful for the support of the ACLJ and others who are working to demand that Turkey release Andrew without delay.”
The Evangelical Presbyterian Church firmly believes that Andrew Brunson’s detention is unfounded. The Brunsons have absolutely no connection to any armed terrorist organization in the country where he has lived peacefully for more than 20 years and where they raised their three children.
Andrew’s daughter, Jacqueline, who attends college in North Carolina, said the family is shocked by the charges against him and urged the Turkish government to release him immediately.
“It is both troubling and disturbing that my father, who has called Turkey home for the last 23 years, is imprisoned without cause,” she said. “I grew up in Turkey and saw firsthand how much he loves Turkey and the Turkish people. He has exhibited nothing but love, mercy, and grace during his time there. The best Christmas present our family could receive this year is the release of my father.”
For more information about Brunson, contact:
Dr. Jeffrey Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk