A message from an American Christian pastor who has been imprisoned by the Turkish regime of Recep Tayyip Erdogan for 16 months has been distributed, asking for prayer and indicating he is “very discouraged.”
Pastor Andrew Brunson wrote in a message to his wife: “I am very discouraged. Please have prayer for me. I love you – can’t handle the thought of growing old in this place, without you.”
The American Center for Law and Justice, which has been an advocate for Brunson, distributed the message.
ACLJ, describing him as “a political prisoner,” said that this week Brunson and his Turkish attorney had a formal meeting with the prosecutor in Turkey.
“Although this was the first such meeting since Pastor Andrew’s detention, very little was accomplished,” ACLJ said. “With still no access to the case file, indictment, or end in sight, Pastor Andrew penned a hopeless and heartbreaking note to his wife via an embassy official shortly after the meeting.”
ACLJ has taken the case to Congress, the president and the United Nations.
“We will not back down. We will continue to fight this violation of justice and human rights until Pastor Andrew is released and returned home to his family in America,” the organization said.
WND reported last month when 24 members of the Council of Europe signed a document demanding Turkey release Brunson, who has been held without charges.
The written declaration criticizes Erdogan for using Brunson as “a bargaining chip” with the U.S. to extradite Fethullah Gulen, whom Erdogan blames for the failed coup attempt in July 2016.
Brunson had served as a pastor in Turkey for more than 23 years before his arrest in late 2016.
ACLJ said its international affiliate, the European Centre for Law and Justice, submitted a written question to the Council’s Committee of Ministers “with the argument that Turkey is violating its international commitments to respect and apply human rights within its territory.”
The question to the ministers was: “What do you intend to do to ensure that Turkey adheres to its European commitments and obligations. And what can you do to ensure the effective enjoyment of the rights enshrined in the European Convention by Pastor Brunson?”
Eventually, 24 members of the council — from Moldova, Sweden, Ukraine, Romania, Ireland, Armenia, Spain, San Marino, Poland, Serbia, United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Hungary, Netherlands and Croatia — signed a document explaining that Brunson has been held for more than 400 days, “without any reason, and in blatant violation of his rights.”
The ministers’ statement said: “He has lived under inhumane conditions and lost over 50 pounds. While no evidence had ever been set forth to substantiate any crime from him, the Turkish authorities have systematically denied the multiple appeals contesting his detention.”
WND reported in late 2017 that Turkey was not only accusing Brunson of terrorism but also espionage and attempting to overthrow the Turkish government, which could bring life in prison and possibly even the death penalty if he is convicted.
Turkey, once held up as an example of a moderate Islam friendly to Western values, has been sliding backward in recent years. The latest crackdowns on Christianity signaled an acceleration of its return to Islamic Shariah law under the Erdogan regime.
For example, the country, which is 99 percent Muslim, recently seized ownership of 50 churches.
The last time Turkey was ruled by Shariah, under the Ottoman Empire, it slaughtered more than 1.5 million Christians of Greek, Armenian and Syrian descent.
Brunson led a church in the city of Izmir.
By refusing to release Brunson and now tacking on espionage charges, the Turkish government appears to be sending a message to both its own people and the outside world that it is indeed now an Islamic state and will not tolerate Christian evangelizing, according to legal experts and fellow missionaries in the United States.
Barnabas Aid, which assists persecuted Christians worldwide, reported in November 2016 “a climate of growing instability and persecution of Christians in Turkey.”