DUNWOODY, Ga. – A church pastor is being held in Turkey on charges that he is a threat to their national security. Members of his church told Channel 2’s Carl Willis he is in grave danger and is being kept with ISIS fighters.
Now, there is a global effort to get Pastor Andrew Brunson home in time for the holidays.
A failed coup to overthrow the Turkish government this summer is still causing trouble for Americans abroad months later.
Catherine Sykes with Dunwoody’s Life Center Ministries said Brunson, who is from North Carolina, was detained for 63 days.
Sykes traveled to Turkey last month.
“The longer that this situation goes on, the more dire it becomes,” Sykes told Channel 2’s Carl Willis.
That’s because Brunson was then formally charged on Dec. 7 for being a part of an armed terrorist group.
But Sykes said Brunson’s charges are false. His family believes he was arrested because he’s Christian.
“He is in a Turkish prison with ISIS fighters, Afghani rebels and others who have created problems for the Turkish government,” Sykes told Willis.
Beyond that, she said another pastor from Atlanta and a member of the Dunwoody church are now running Brunson’s ministry in Turkey.
“We are obviously concerned about his safety and the risk of the same things happening to him,” Sykes said.
Willis contacted the Department of State about the situation. They told Willis they have seen reports of U.S. citizens being detained and deported.
In a statement they wrote:
“The Department of State takes seriously its obligation to assist U.S. citizens arrested abroad. When a U.S. citizen is detained overseas, we seek to visit as soon as possible and to provide appropriate consular services.”
“He is an American citizen who is being held without due process, without proper counsel or even consular services,” Sykes said.
It’s Sykes’ hope that people of metro Atlanta and beyond will speak up and help the pastor get back to his family for the holidays.
“Hopefully, we can get the flood of response to bring him home, and our president will act, our state department will use all pressure that it can,” Sykes said.
SOURCE: Carl Willis
WSB-TV 2, Atlanta