Institute on Religion & Democracy Press Release
April 25, 2018
Contact: Chelsen Vicari, Cell: 540-239-2170, E-mail: cvicari@TheIRD.org
Washington, DC—The Institute on Religion & Democracy (IRD) is condemning the false allegations against imprisoned American pastor, Andrew Brunson, 50, jailed in Turkey since October 7, 2016. The Turkish government has accused Brunson, an evangelical pastor from North Carolina, of espionage and aiding terrorists in a failed coup against President Tayyip Erodgan. If convicted, Brunson faces up to 35 years in prison.
Brunson has lived and ministered for 23 years in Izmir, located along Turkey’s Aegean coast. He is the pastor of Resurrection Church in Izmir and an ordained minister of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has condemned the bogus charges and called for Brunson’s immediate release. IRD commends U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Samuel Brownback for traveling to Turkey in support of Brunson during his April 16 trial hearing.
Brunson currently sits in prison awaiting his next hearing, set for May 7, 2018.
IRD International Religious Liberty Director Faith J.H. McDonnell commented:
“We continue to pray for Pastor Andrew Brunson, and we urge individuals and churches to pray daily for him and for an end to his unjust imprisonment.”
“The United States government is working to achieve Pastor Brunson’s freedom. We are particularly grateful to Ambassador Sam Brownback for going to Turkey to fight for Pastor Brunson’s freedom, and to U.S. Senators Thom Tillis and James Lankford for their interventions on behalf of the pastor. But there have been other efforts as well, including a letter signed by a bi-partisan group of 66 senators and sent to the Turkish president last week, visits to Turkey by other State Department officials and commissioners of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, and calls from President Donald Trump to Turkey on behalf of the pastor.”
“But more must be done, both of the United States government and the international community. The accusations against Pastor Brunson that have caused his brutal imprisonment are a travesty. President Erdogan should not only free Pastor Brunson, but should apologize to him and thank him for his decades of service to Turkey, a country whose people he loves.”