Newsweek | 071918 | By Cristina Maza
“With the news of his continued imprisonment breaking today, Save The Persecuted Christians calls on President Trump, the administration and our legislators to step it up and do everything in their power to bring home American pastor Andrew Brunson jailed in Turkey as a political pawn on false charges of conspiracy,” Dede Laugesen, a member of the Save the Persecuted Christians Coalition, said in a statement.
President Donald Trump lashed out at NATO ally Turkey on Wednesday evening after a Turkish court rejected the request to release Andrew Brunson, an American pastor who is imprisoned in the country on terrorism charges.
“A total disgrace that Turkey will not release a respected U.S. Pastor, Andrew Brunson, from prison. He has been held hostage far too long. @RT_Erdogan should do something to free this wonderful Christian husband & father. He has done nothing wrong, and his family needs him!” Trump tweeted following the court decision.
Brunson is a 50-year-old evangelical Presbyterian missionary who was arrested in Turkey in 2016 as the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched a crackdown against perceived enemies in the wake of a failed military coup. The pastor had helped run a church in the city of Izmir for decades and has frequently expressed his love for the country during court testimony.
But Erdogan’s government has accused him of working for Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based Islamic cleric who the strongman views as his mortal enemy. Turkey says the pastor has allegedly spied for the outlawed Kurdish political party, the PKK. He was also charged with having links to a terrorist organization in March.