US Vice President Pence once again demands pastor Brunson’s release
U.S Vice President Mike Pence has once again demanded Turkey release jailed American pastor Andrew Brunson.
“Pastor Andrew Brunson is an innocent man held in Turkey & justice demands that he be released. Turkey would do well not to test President Trump’s resolve to see Americans who are wrongfully imprisoned in foreign lands returned home to the United States,” Pence wrote on Twitter.
Pence’s plea came shortly after a court in the western İzmir province on Aug. 15 rejected an appeal for Brunson to be released from house arrest during his trial on terrorism charges.
“President Trump and I continue to stand firm until Pastor Brunson is released and returned to his family, friends, and church in the USA. Every American should continue to pray for Pastor Andrew Brunson & his wife Noreen until this godly man of faith is home,” Pence tweeted on Aug. 15.
Brunson, who has been living in Turkey for more than two decades, was accused of helping supporters of the U.S.-based Fethullah Gülen who Turkish authorities say masterminded the 2016 coup attempt in which 250 people were killed.
He was also charged with supporting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey and the U.S.
“We feel that Turkey, and specifically President [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan, have treated Pastor Brunson — who we know to be a very good person and a strong Christian who’s done nothing wrong — very unfairly, very badly. And it’s something that we won’t forget in the administration,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said on Aug. 15.
The continued detention of Brunson has become a lightning rod in strained relations between Turkey and the U.S., leading Washington to slap economic and political sanctions on its NATO ally.
In response, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has called for a boycott of U.S. electronic goods.
Moreover, Turkey has increased tariffs on several U.S.-origin products.
Brunson’s next hearing as part of the trial is scheduled for Oct. 12.