“THIS IS THE FIRST STEP”
by Sharon Rondeau
Mainstream outlets are covering the breaking news, as has the American Center or Law and Justice (ACLJ), his family’s attorney and a leading proponent of raising the public’s awareness of his imprisonment since late 2016.
“We have confirmed that the Turkish government has issued an order releasing Pastor Andrew from prison and allowing him to be returned to his home in Turkey. This is a critical first step that we believe will result in the freedom of Pastor Andrew so he can return to the United States and be reunited with his family,” the ACLJ reported late Wednesday morning on its website.
According to the beheardproject, in October 2016, Brunson, who had been working as a missionary in Turkey for the last 23 years and raised his family there, was arrested for allegedly being a member of an “armed terrorist organization.” The ACLJ additionally reported that Brunson was charged with “political/military espionage” and if convicted, was facing 35 years in prison.
Brunson’s wife was also arrested, held for three days and released.
Over the last six months, successive press releases on his prosecution and physical health did not bode well for Pastor Brunson.
An ACLJ radio broadcast hosted by Jordan Sekulow issued an update on Brunson’s circumstances here. His father, Jay Sekulow, reported that “Pastor Andrew Brunson has been released from prison in Turkey. He’s been taken to his home; in his home he will be under a home confinement; this is the first step towards sending him back to the United States. That could happen imminently…”
Quoting a CNN source, ChristianToday reported that “Brunson will be fixed with an electronic ankle bracelet or similar monitoring device and is banned from leaving the country.”
Jay Sekulow said that negotiations involved those “at the highest levels,” including “the president of the United States.” Sekulow represents Donald Trump in certain White House matters.
In a tweet last week, Trump had urged Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to release Brunson.
Update, 9:03 p.m. EDT: The U.S. State Department issued the following statement on Pastor Brunson’s release from prison to home confinement:
This morning the United States received long overdue news that Pastor Andrew Brunson was moved from Buca Prison to house arrest in Turkey. We understand that he will be monitored electronically. While this move is a positive development, it is not enough. We have seen no credible evidence against Mr. Brunson, and we call on Turkish authorities to resolve his case immediately in a transparent and fair manner.