News

Freed Pastor Kisses American Flag on First Stop Before Finally Returning Home

After being imprisoned in Turkey for two years, Pastor Andrew Brunson was finally released on Friday and is scheduled to meet Saturday with President Donald Trump, who worked diligently to secure Brunson’s release.

On the way back to the United States, Brunson and his wife stopped at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany. U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell tweeted about the emotional moment when Brunson stepped off the plane.

“I welcomed Pastor Brunson & his wife to Germany on their refueling stop. He’s almost home thanks to @realDonaldTrump. When I presented him with the US flag, he immediately kissed it,” Grenell tweeted.

Turkey had sentenced Brunson to a little more than three years in prison on unsubstantiated charges related to spying and supporting terrorists. On Friday, a Turkish court released Brunson after he had served for 24 months.

Trending:
Reporter Who Uncovered Secret Clinton-Lynch Tarmac Meeting Found Dead

Brunson has maintained that he never spied or supported terrorists, the BBC reported.

“I love Jesus. I love Turkey,” he said in court Friday, adding that he was “an innocent man.” 

Trump had made Brunson’s imprisonment a cornerstone of U.S.-Turkey relations and celebrated the North Carolina pastor’s release.

Are you thankful for President Trump's efforts on behalf of Pastor Brunson?

“We bring a lot of people back,” Trump said Friday at an Ohio rally, referencing other Americans released by foreign nations, such as North Korea and China.

“He’s, I think, in good shape,” Trump said earlier, according to Fox News. “He’ll be stopping most likely in Germany for a full check-up and then he’s going to be coming to the Oval Office, most likely on Saturday. But we’re very honored to have him back with us. He suffered greatly, but we’re very appreciative to a lot of people.”

The president also said there was no secret deal made with Turkey to secure Brunson’s release.

However, in response to Brunson’s imprisonment, the U.S. put immense pressure on Turkey’s economy through steep tariffs. Further, Turkey is enmeshed in controversy over the death of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen and journalist who has been missing since he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul a week ago. Saudi officials have so far denied Khashoggi was killed in the consulate.

Related:
Tightrope Act: US to Officially Recognize Armenian Genocide Despite Major Threat to Middle East Peace

Trump’s effort to make the Christian pastor’s case a vital part of relations with Turkey, and his success in getting Brunson freed, were noted in the evangelical community.

“He wouldn’t be our Sunday School teacher necessarily, but he’s doing a great job of leadership,” said televangelist James Robison of the president, according to Politico. “I love him so much I can hardly explain it.”

The American Center for Law and Justice, which worked to secure Brunson’s release, issued a statement on his behalf on Friday.

“This is the day our family has been praying for — I am delighted to be on my way home to the United States,” Brunson said in the statement.

Brunson never denied that he worked with those who opposed the government, but said that at the Izmir Resurrection Church he operated, “We helped everyone, Kurds, Arabs, without showing any discrimination.”

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →



We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

Tags:
, , , ,
Jack Davis is a freelance writer who joined The Western Journal in July 2015 and chronicled the campaign that saw President Donald Trump elected. Since then, he has written extensively for The Western Journal on the Trump administration as well as foreign policy and military issues.
Jack Davis is a freelance writer who joined The Western Journal in July 2015 and chronicled the campaign that saw President Donald Trump elected. Since then, he has written extensively for The Western Journal on the Trump administration as well as foreign policy and military issues.
Jack can be reached at jackwritings1@gmail.com.
Location
New York City
Languages Spoken
English
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Foreign Policy, Military & Defense Issues




Conversation