Next Wednesday, November 15, 2017, will be the 404th day of American pastor Andrew Brunson’s false imprisonment in Turkey. That same day, at 9:00 AM ET, the U.S. Helsinki Commission – a congressional commission – is holding a hearing to probe Turkey’s detention of U.S. Citizens. ACLJ Executive Senior Counsel, CeCe Heil, as well as Pastor Andrew’s daughter, will be testifying before the Commission on Pastor Andrew’s behalf.
As you know, last October, Pastor Andrew, who peacefully served the people of Turkey for over 23 years as Pastor of the Izmir Resurrection church, was arrested and detained after suddenly and arbitrarily being accused of being a “threat to national security.” At no time has Turkey presented evidence against Pastor Andrew to substantiate the ridiculous claims made against him. And Pastor Andrew has adamantly maintained his innocence, stating repeatedly that he was in Turkey was “for one purpose only. To tell about Jesus Christ.”
As the Commission will hear during testimony, Pastor Andrew is a hostage of the Turkish government; a pawn whom President Erdoğan believes can be used as a bargaining chip for Turkey. As we reported before,
President Erdoğan just confirmed that his regime is holding Pastor Brunson hostage, demanding that the U.S. government turn over Erdoğan’s political enemy who is currently living in the United States, Fethullah Gülen (an Islamic imam Erdoğan blames for the recent coup in Turkey).
Let us state – again – that Pastor Andrew is innocent. There is no evidence to support any of the charges against him. As such, Turkey is grossly abusing its power and further damaging the already sensitive relationship between it and the United States.
Turkey is a NATO ally, a party to several international human rights declarations and covenants, and is a member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (“OSCE”). The purpose of Wednesday’s hearing is to obtain “policy recommendations that could help secure [Pastor Andrew’s] release and promote Turkey’s respect for its rule of law and other commitments as a participating State of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).” Indeed, it is well past time that the U.S. hold Turkey accountable to the rule of law. Pastor Andrew needs to be released immediately and returned safely to his family.
Let’s not allow Pastor Andrew spend another Holiday season all alone in a cold cell, separated from his loved ones, and without hope of release. Join us in our efforts to free Pastor Andrew. Sign our petition today.
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