After two years of prison and detention, Pastor Andrew Brunson has been released after one final hearing in a Turkish court.
Shockingly, the court upheld its bogus terrorism conviction of the Christian pastor but is still allowing him to leave Turkey anyway. But Brunson maintained his innocence, telling the court, “I love Jesus. I love Turkey.”
My thoughts and prayers are with Pastor Brunson, and we hope to have him safely back home soon!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 12, 2018
“I thank God for Pastor Brunson’s release and look forward to his return to the United States,” said Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, president & CEO of the National Religious Broadcasters. “I am also grateful that President Trump, Vice President Pence, Secretary Pompeo, Ambassador Brownback, Senator Tillis, and other US officials refused to take ‘no’ for an answer for this man’s release. This administration stayed true to its citizen.”
Turkish flag, Photo, AP
The American pastor’s arrest brought two NATO allies face to face in a major geopolitical confrontation over the fate and future of this evangelical minister.
Pastor Brunson’s ordeal mobilized Christians around the world.
“It’s been an extremely difficult time for our family and we want to express our appreciation to the millions of people around the world who have faithfully prayed for this day,” Brunson said. “I am thankful for the representation of the American Center for Law & Justice – especially ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow and ACLJ Senior Counsel CeCe Heil – as well as the many others who worked so hard to obtain my freedom. I look forward to returning home and being reunited with my family.”
Pastor William Devlin, Photo, AP
Before the court hearing, US Vice President Mike Pence said the release of Pastor Brunson has been a priority for the Trump administration.
“Our administration has made very clear that we will continue to stand strong until Pastor Andrew Brunson is free and back home in the United States with his family and with his church,” Pence said.
Vice President Mike Pence, Photo, AP
Middle East analyst Mike Kerem said “This is historic in that how many times they have brought this up in high-level communications with the Turkish administration.”
Middle East Analyst Mike Kerem, Photo, CBN News, Jonathan Goff
Turkey accused Brunson of participating in a 2016 coup to overthrow the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Pastor Brunson faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted.
Kerem said Pastor Brunson stood for more than his own freedom.
“I believe this is really a call to prayer. Not only for Andrew, but for the Turkish and Kurdish and Arab and Syrian and Iraqi and Iranian people all living very close because it’s clear that Andrew Brunson is in prison or under arrest for one reason and that’s his hope and faith in Jesus Christ as the Messiah, not only of the West, but of the entire world,” he said before Brunson’s release.