Christians in Turkey request renewed prayer for imprisoned American pastor Andrew Brunson after President Erdogan linked his release to the extradition of Fetullah Gulen, whom Turkey holds responsible for the attempted coup in July 2016.
On 28th September President Erdogan was addressing police officers at the Presidential Palace in Ankara when he referred to the possibility of an exchange, releasing Andrew Brunson in return for the extradition of Islamic cleric Fetullah Gulen. Commenting on behalf of the U.S. State Department, Heather Nauert said that Andrew has been wrongfully imprisoned and efforts continue to obtain his release, but regarding the president’s suggestion of an exchange, she responded, “I can’t imagine that we would go down that road.”
Andrew was originally arrested with his wife on 7th October 2016. They were told that they were to be deported as “a threat to national security”. His wife was subsequently released, but Andrew was imprisoned in Izmir after a court appearance and allegations linking him to the Fetullah Gulen organisation.
On 24th August 2017 Andrew Brunson faced allegations that he had obtained confidential political and military information for espionage purposes, specifically to “overthrow” the Turkish Parliament and government and undermine the constitutional order of the state. The state prosecutor has asked for four consecutive life sentences.
Andrew has consistently denied any such activity and reiterated that he is a “a man of religion” whose aim is to tell about Jesus Christ. Neither Andrew nor his lawyer have had access to his file or any evidence submitted.
In August a new decree gave Erdogan the authority to approve the exchange of foreigners detained or convicted in Turkey with people held in other countries “in situations required by national security or national interests”. On 15th July 2016 military officers believed to be linked to Fetullah Gulen’s organisation attempted to stage a military coup to overthrow President Erdogan. Fetullah Gulen has denied any involvement and the U.S. government has not complied with requests for his extradition due to the lack of substantiating evidence.
Christians in Turkey request prayer for him and his family that:
a) Andrew will be released soon and be reunited with his family
b) God will make His presence felt and encourage Andrew and his family in this difficult time
c) Those engaged in negotiations for Andrew’s release will have much wisdom
d) Justice and righteousness will prevail in Turkey and that the officials involved in bringing false charges will be stopped