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ICC Note:

Imprisoned American Pastor Andrew Brunson has reportedly lost up to fifty pounds and is being held with twenty-two others in a Turkish prison cell designed for eight. Pastor Brunson has been unjustly imprisoned for a year on allegations of conspiring against the Turkish government. These charges are based on secret testimony, and Pastor Brunson has been given no opportunity to demonstrate his innocence and review the alleged evidence. Instead, the Turkish authorities continue to hold him as a political hostage. Pray that God strengthens Pastor Brunson in mind and body, and that he comforts the Pastor’s family during this difficult time.

 

10/09/2017 Turkey (Citizen Times) – When the Rev. Richard White was helping write a prayer for the release of local Christian missionary Pastor Andrew Brunson from a Turkish prison, he had plenty of material.

Members of Christ Community Church in Montreat have prayed repeatedly for Brunson in groups large and small since he was taken into custody just more than a year ago.

Thousands of members of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church denomination around the country were expected to pray for Brunson during Sunday services, using a prayer based on White’s notes from prayers his members have offered over the past 12 months.

“Strengthen Andrew in body and mind. Expose and confuse all the lies that stand against him. Break the power of evil and cause truth to prevail. … Set our brother free,” it reads in part.

Turkey’s charges against Brunson say he was involved in efforts to overthrow the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Supporters say the accusations are absurd, and some worry Brunson has become a political prisoner or even a hostage Erdogan wants to use as a bargaining chip with the U.S.

Two vice chairwomen of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent federal government body appointed by elected officials of both parties, visited Brunson recently and reported Saturday that he has lost 50 pounds in prison.

“He lives in a world of psychic and physical dislocation,” said Vice Chairwoman Sandra Jolley. “Despite a public veneer of a legal process, the truth is Pastor Brunson has had no due process, no true information about the charges against him, unreliable court dates, and no idea when he ever again will see his children or his country.”

“The government of Turkey has fabricated charges against Pastor Brunson, largely based on purported ‘secret testimony,'” said Vice Chairwoman Kristina Arriaga. “He should be released immediately.”

Recent events have increased concern among his supporters that the day of his release may still be some time ahead.

The anniversary of the day Brunson was first incarcerated was Saturday. The son of missionaries, he was leading a small church in Izmir, in Turkey’s southwestern corner, as he had for 23 years.

Brunson, a Black Mountain native, was initially charged with belonging to a terrorist organization. In August, Turkey added charges of “gathering state secrets for espionage, attempting to overthrow the Turkish parliament and government and to change the constitutional order,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

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