American Pastor Finally Released by Turkish Court, Trump Gets Praise


Andrew Brunson, the American pastor held in Turkey under espionage charges for two years, was freed on Friday.

Brunson, 50, was arrested in October 2016 and faced a sentence of up to 35 years in prison; however a Turkish judge issued a sentence of a little over three years long, and then in effect commuting it to time served, CNBC reported.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan had claimed the North Carolina preacher supported a failed 2016 coup attempt.

“Witnesses said Brunson wept as the decision was announced. Before the judge’s ruling, the pastor told the court: ‘I am an innocent man. I love Jesus, I love Turkey,'” according to CNBC. The pastor’s wife Norine was watching from the visitors’ seating area as the court issued its decree.

Brunson has lived in Turkey for more than two decades leading the Resurrection Church in the city of Izmir, in the western part of the country.

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North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis told Fox News, “I’ve got to thank President Trump. He was, I think, the MVP in helping us get Pastor Brunson released.”

Brunson’s mother said to Reuters that she and his father were thrilled to hear of their son’s release.

“We are overjoyed that God has answered the prayers of so many people around the world,” she said.

Do you appreciate the Trump administration's efforts to secure Brunson's release?

Vice President Mike Pence tweeted praising Trump’s “strong leadership’ and exclaiming, “We thank God for answered prayers and commend the efforts of @SecPompeo & @StateDept in supporting Pastor Brunson and his family during this difficult time. @SecondLady and I look forward to welcoming Pastor Brunson and his courageous wife Norine back to the USA!”

Last month at the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., Secretary of State Pompeo said securing the release of three American prisoners, including a pastor, from North Korea had been the most rewarding experience to date of his tenure at the State Department.

He promised the evangelical crowd on hand that the U.S. was doing everything in its power to free Brunson.

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“He has been wrongly held,” Pompeo said. “And his proper place is to be able to return here to once again practice his faith in our great nation.”

FRC President Tony Perkins said on Friday he had visited with Brunson and his wife in Turkey the day before the court’s ruling, delivering letters from Trump and Pence that assured the couple of the administration’s commitment to secure the pastor’s release.

“The prayers of thousands were answered today when Pastor Brunson was released by the Turkish government and told he could go home to the United States,” Perkins said in a statement after Brunson learned he was a free man. “Those prayers combined with the unwavering resolve of President Trump, Vice President Pence, Secretary Pompeo and Ambassador Brownback brought tangible help to Pastor Brunson and hope to those around the globe who are being persecuted because of their faith.”

He added, “Pastor Brunson was also well represented legally by our friends at the American Center for Law and Justice and we commend them and their attorneys for the outstanding work they did on behalf of Pastor Brunson.”

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Randy DeSoto has written more than 3,000 articles for The Western Journal since he joined the company in 2015. He is a graduate of West Point and Regent University School of Law. He is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths" and screenwriter of the political documentary "I Want Your Money."
Randy DeSoto is the senior staff writer for The Western Journal. He wrote and was the assistant producer of the documentary film "I Want Your Money" about the perils of Big Government, comparing the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. Randy is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths," which addresses how leaders have appealed to beliefs found in the Declaration of Independence at defining moments in our nation's history. He has been published in several political sites and newspapers.

Randy graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a BS in political science and Regent University School of Law with a juris doctorate.
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Graduated dean's list from West Point
United States Military Academy at West Point, Regent University School of Law
Books Written
We Hold These Truths
Professional Memberships
Virginia and Pennsylvania state bars
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Entertainment, Faith