Andrew Brunson is a citizen of the United States and pastor who was detained for two years and accused by the Turkish government of espionage and terrorism charges that he adamantly denies. The U.S. government and humanitarian groups sought his release.
On October 12, 2018, Turkey revealed that he was being released from house arrest and Turkish custody. The case had strained the relationship between the United States and Turkey. Brunson is a North Carolina-born pastor with a small Presbyterian church in Turkey. He was first imprisoned in Turkey in October 2016, and petitions seeking his release were signed by hundreds of thousands of people who argued he was wrongfully imprisoned and mistreated.
Brunson was flown to Germany for medical evaluation and will then be returned to the U.S., according to The Hill.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Andrew Brunson Was a Long-Time Resident of Turkey Whose Home Church Is in North Carolina
US Pastor Andrew Craig Brunson.
Although he is a citizen of the United States, Andrew Brunson had lived in Turkey for a long time, where he presided over a small church. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom describes Brunson as an “American pastor living in Turkey for 20+ years.”
According to BBC, he is a “long-term resident in Turkey” who lived with his wife and three children in Turkey. He worked for Izmir Resurrection Church, which has only about two dozen parishioners, BBC reports.
According to the Commission, he was based at “a small evangelical Presbyterian congregation in the city of Izmir.” Its name means “Resurrection.” He was born in South Carolina. According to ACLJ, “his Home church is Christ Community Church in Montreat, N.C.” He is married to Norine Brunson.
2. Brunson Was Accused of Plotting a Coup in Turkey
Andrew Brunson was detained for two years, according to CNN. The accusation: That he tried to plot a coup against the Turkish president.
According to the U.S. Commission, “a court document released at a December 9, 2016 hearing indicated that Pastor Brunson had been charged with ‘membership in an armed terrorist organization.’ The judge reportedly mentioned allegations that Pastor Brunson is linked to the Gülen movement, which the Turkish government accuses of planning the failed July 2016 coup.”
That bloody coup attempt against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan left more than 250 people dead. Fethullah Gulen, a former Erdogan ally now living in the U.S., was blamed by Turkey for instigating the coup, according to Al-Jazeera.
ACLJ reports that the Turkish government tried to use Brunson as a bargaining chip to get Gulen back to Turkey, but it didn’t work.
3. Brunson Was Arrested During What He Thought Was a Routine Meeting to Renew His Visa
FacebookAndrew and Norine Brunson.
Back in 2016, Brunson’s arrest came as a surprise.
According to the United States Commission, Andrew Brunson “filed an application to renew his residence visa in April 2016. On October 7, 2016, the local police department summoned him for what he assumed to be …read more