American Pastor Andrew Brunson has been imprisoned in Turkey for more than six months after he was detained for what government officials said was his membership in an “armed terrorist organization,” but now Vice President Mike Pence has reached out to Brunson’s wife, Norine, and pledged the U.S. is working on securing her husband’s release.
The American Center for Law and Justice, which is lobbying for Brunson, reported the letter from Pence comes on the heels of a meeting just days ago between Norine and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during his recent diplomatic trip to Turkey.
“On the heels of Pastor Andrew Brunson’s wife personal meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson concerning the wrongful imprisonment of her husband, she received a personal letter from Vice President Pence assuring her that Brunson’s ‘case remains a top priority of the U.S. government,'” ACLJ reported.
Citing his “deep, personal interest” over Brunson’s plight, Pence wrote: “I can assure you both that the State Department and this White House, under President Trump’s leadership, consider Andrew’s release and reunification with you and your three children extremely important.”
Pence also said that he had “personally discussed [Pastor Andrew’s] detention with senior Turkish officials,” according to ACLJ.
Brunson and his wife have lived as Christian missionaries in Turkey for more than 20 years and raised their children there. Now, his family is suffering the loss of their beloved husband, father, and brother.
“It’s been very hard on us as his family,” Beth Herman, Brunson’s sister, told Breitbart News. “We love him and we want him to be back with his family.”
“We really, really want to get this case, my father’s case, to President Trump,” Brunson’s daughter Jacqueline Brunson told Fox News in a recent interview.
“That’s kind of on hold because I want my dad to be able to walk me down the aisle,” she said. “I want him there. He only gets to see me get married once.”
Brunson made a direct appeal to Trump in a statement he gave to officials at the U.S. Embassy in Turkey:
Will the Turkish government face no consequence for stubbornly continuing to hold an American citizen as a political prisoner? Even though I have a long public track record as a church pastor, they falsely accuse me of being a member of an Islamist terrorist group. I have been imprisoned since October 7, 2016. During this time the Turkish government has produced no proof and has rebuffed numerous attempts by the American government to secure my return to the United States. In fact they are treating the US government with contempt and paying no price for it. I plead with my government – with the Trump Administration – to fight for me. I ask the State Department to impose sanctions. I appeal to President Trump: please help me. Let the Turkish government know that you will not cooperate with them in any way until they release me. Please do not leave me here in prison.
ACLJ also launched a petition drive, which 261,383 people have signed, to show their support for Brunson and to ask for his release and return to the United States.
“We have a strong faith in God,” Brunson’s sister said. “We believe God is with him and he’ll make it through this.”