After 21 Months Imprisoned in Turkey for 'Christianization,' American Pastor Freed from Jail


On October 7, 2016, American pastor Andrew Brunson was arrested by Turkish authorities for the crime of “Christianization.”

The 50-year-old pastor, who lived with his wife and children in Turkey for over 23 years, has been in prison ever since, facing false charges of terrorism and espionage.

Many of those testifying against Brunson are “secret witnesses,” and if he is convicted, he could spend 35 years in prison.

News of Brunson’s shocking arrest quickly made its way to the United States, where countless people began rallying for his freedom.

Brunson has adamantly denied the charges against him, and after four trial postponements and his spending nearly two years in prison, there is still no evidence to prove him guilty.

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President Donald Trump has also voiced his support for the pastor, calling his imprisonment a “total disgrace” and demanding his release so he can be reunited with his family.

“A total disgrace that Turkey will not release a respected U.S. Pastor, Andrew Brunson, from prison,” Trump tweeted on July 18. “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!”

The pastor’s family has been anxiously awaiting his release, staying positive and praying for an end to his imprisonment.

On July 24, Brunson’s daughter Jacqueline Funari spoke in front of the US State Department’s religious freedom ministerial about her father’s time in jail. Ultimately, his imprisonment forced him to miss walking Funari down the aisle at her wedding.

“I cannot tell you how proud I am of my father and what an example of Christ’s love he continues to be to the world as he is wrongly imprisoned for his faith,” she said according to Christianity Today, adding that she was “still waiting for my father-daughter dance.”

The American Center for Law and Justice has also been working tirelessly to free Brunson, and on July 25, a Turkish court ruled that he would be allowed to return to his family home in Turkey under house arrest before his trial in October.

Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ, released a statement Wednesday about their progress.

“We have confirmed that the Turkish government has issued an order releasing Pastor Andrew Brunson from prison and allowing him to be returned to his home in Turkey,” he said. “This is a critical first step that we believe will result in the freedom of Pastor Brunson so he can return to the United States and be reunited with his family. The President has played a critical role in securing the freedom of Pastor Brunson. We have worked closely with the President on this matter and are grateful for his efforts. We look forward to the ultimate release of Pastor Brunson.”

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According to NBC News, Brunson’s lawyer Ismail Cem Halavurt said he spoke with the pastor’s family “and they were very happy,” but still feel “betrayed” that he was held in prison for so long.

Even so, his family, US government officials, and countless supporters continue to rally behind him for the complete resolution of his case.

“We welcome long overdue news that Pastor Brunson has been moved from prison to house arrest in Turkey, but it is not enough,” US Secretary of State wrote on Twitter Wednesday morning. “We have seen no credible evidence against Mr. Brunson, and call on Turkish authorities to resolve his case immediately in a transparent and fair manner.”

According to Halavurt, Brunson’s family was at the prison waiting for him, and he arrived at his home early Wednesday morning.

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Liz was a senior story editor for The Western Journal.
Liz was a senior story editor for The Western Journal.
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