An American pastor is facing trial in Turkey after being arrested on false terrorism charges.
An appeal filed by the American Center for Law and Justice on behalf of the pastor, Andrew Brunson, was denied in December by a Turkish judge. Brunson, who has served as a Protestant Christian pastor in the country for 23 years, was charged with “membership in an armed terrorist organization.”
ACLJ chief counsel Jay Sekulow said in a prepared statement that Brunson’s arrest began “a rampant crackdown on Christians” in Turkey. Brunson’s family called the charges “unfounded” and “shocking,” and the ACLJ notes that Turkish authorities have been fully aware of Brunson’s ministerial role throughout his time in the country.
BGEA President Franklin Graham has spoken with Brunson’s wife, Norine, and addressed the matter on his Facebook page.
“These are very serious charges,” Franklin said in the post. “I ask that you join me in praying specifically for Pastor Andrew’s protection and release.”
Andrew and Norine—natives of Black Mountain, N.C.—were originally detained for unspecified reasons on Oct. 7, pending deportation. Norine was later released. It wasn’t until Dec. 9 that the terrorism charges were made against Brunson, who could face years in prison if found guilty.