US Secretary of State Tillerson meets wife of US pastor jailed in Turkey
ANKARA - ReutersU.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with the wife of a jailed American pastor, Andrew Brunson, in the Turkish capital Ankara late on March 30, a State Department official said March 31.
Brunson is a missionary who has been held in Turkey since October 2016 on charges of being part of a terrorist organization, according to news reports.
“Secretary of State Tillerson wanted to make sure he met with Mrs. Brunson to share the most recent information he had on Pastor Brunson’s case,” the official said.
“The Secretary committed to staying in touch with Mrs. Brunson regarding the case moving forward,” the official said.
The pastor and his wife, Norine Brunson, were initially detained on immigration violation charges in October 2016, when they were operating a small Christian church in the western province of İzmir.
Brunson has been charged with membership to the Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ), the network of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen who is accused of masterminding the July 2016 failed coup attempt.
Tillerson was in Ankara to meet President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and senior government ministers for talks which focused on the conflict in neighboring Syria.
Speaking at a joint press conference with his U.S. couterpart, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on March 30 said Brunson was not arrested for his work but upon a complaint from his translator.
“During this process, we have assisted him in accessing the consulate, meeting his family, private talks with his wife, and providing books that he wanted, including the Bible. We will continue to do so. The court will make a decision on him after the prosecutor completes the indictment. It is a not process that the judiciary and the police initated themselves, but upon a complaint from his own translator. We are also waiting for the judiciary to make a decision immediately. This is not a political process, nor is it a step against the U.S.,” Çavuşoğlu said.