White House Increases the Pressure on Turkey Over Pastor Brunson’s Release

Pastor Andrew Brunson
Pastor Andrew Brunson (Twitter)

On Sunday, August 19, the Wall Street Journal wrote: “The White House rejected Turkey’s offer to release an American pastor in exchange for forgiveness of billions of dollars in U.S. fines on a Turkish bank, expressing that other matters would be considered only after Andrew Brunson is released, a senior administration official told The Wall Street Journal.

Pastor of the Diriliş (Resurrection) Protestant Church in İzmir, Brunson was arrested in October 2016. On July 25, 2018, he moved to house arrest. He is scheduled to appear before a court in October for his third hearing after the court rejected several appeals for his release.

In an interview August 8 on Christian Broadcasting News, Kristina Arriaga, Vice Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, expressed her concern over the Turkish government’s recent concession of placing Pastor Andrew Brunson under house arrest after keeping him for two years in a Turkish prison.

“He’s in a terribly dangerous situation because the Brunsons are portrayed in the Turkish press as people who are against the state of Turkey,” she said, “and I have great fears there’s going to be an increase of incitement of violence against them and no one will be able to stop a mob that tries to go and kill him.”

A Presbyterian pastor from North Carolina, Brunson faces up to 35 years in Turkish prison for charges he asserts are untrue. Brunson, who has led a small congregation in Izmir, Turkey, for the past two decades, was arrested in October 2016.

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