Turkey holding American pastor in jail because of Christian faith, says family

Turkey is holding American pastor Andrew Brunson in jail solely because of his Christian faith and not because of the terror allegations against him, his family has lamented.

(REUTERS / Murad Sezer)A special forces police officer takes security measures as he stands on top of a building where the portraits of Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan (L), Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and a Turkish flag are displayed in Istanbul, Turkey, June 3, 2015.

Pastor Brunson has been imprisoned in Turkey for almost four months now because of his alleged "membership in an armed terrorist organization." However, his daughter told ABC 11 that the allegation is "outrageous."

"Honestly it's been a nightmare that I did not think would still be going on," Jacqueline Brunson, the pastor's daughter, told the media outlet. "I mean he's an American citizen. It's kind of outrageous to think that this is happening to an American citizen."

The Presbyterian pastor has spent the past 23 years conducting Christian missions in Turkey, actively preaching and building churches. His pastoral activities were interrupted when he applied for residency and was later arrested over the allegation that he was a terrorist.

Like Jacqueline, the American Center for Law and Justice's executive counsel, Cece Heil, believes Pastor Brunson has no ties with any terror group. Brunson's daughter said the changes in Turkey, which were brought about by a failed coup attempt last year, have made the country an unwelcome place for Christians.

"There's nothing that they can look at that has any ties to membership and any terrorist organization. He's the pastor of a church," added Heil.

In the wake of the failed coup, Turkey has launched a widespread crackdown on suspected masterminds and sympathizers of the uprising. Authorities have jailed tens of thousands of government officials, journalists, and teachers with the intention of prosecuting them over terror charges, and around 100 expatriate Protestant Christians were forced to halt their ministries in Turkey, Bos News Life reports.

As of now, Pastor's Brunson's case has already been sealed. To make matters more difficult, there is no court date scheduled, and the official evidence and charges against the American minister are unknown. ACLJ can only hope that U.S. President Donald Trump will be able to bring up the issue with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan if they get a chance to talk.