Apr 17, 2018 by Alyssa Duvall

US Pastor Andrew Brunson Will Remain A Prisoner In Turkey

Andrew Brunson, the pastor who has been detained in Turkey for 18 months on charges of espionage, is set to remain a prisoner despite his recent appeal. Brunson was arrested in the aftermath of the failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2016, and all efforts by American officials to secure his release have been unsuccessful.

Brunson, 50, who serves as lead pastor of Resurrection Church in the city of Izmir, has been a missionary in Turkey for 23 years. He stands accused of aiding the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), considered a terrorist group by the Turkish government for its separatist insurgency. Brunson is also accused of having links to followers of Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim imam who lives in Pennsylvania and who the government blames for the coup against President Erdogan.

In his heartbreaking appeal to the court on Monday, Pastor Brunson revealed that he had suffered a breakdown in jail and stopped eating. Though Brunson begged to be sent home under house arrest, the judge upheld a judicial order that he remain incarcerated for another month.

"The case has drawn high-level interest in the United States. Both President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have raised it in meetings with Turkish officials, and on Monday Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Mr. Brunson’s home state, was present for the trial," according to the New York Times. "So was Sam Brownback, a former senator and governor from Kansas whom Mr. Trump recently appointed as ambassador at large for international religious freedom."

Mr. Brownback reported that, after looking into Brunson's case, the American government had determined his innocence.

“People are deeply concerned and focused and interested in this case,” Brownback said. “The administration and the United States cares deeply about our relationship with Turkey. This is a valuable ally of ours and we deeply value our relationship. We want to see this resolved.”

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