Pence to Turkey: Free Pastor Andrew Brunson or Face Sanctions

Melanie Arter | July 26, 2018 | 4:56pm EDT
Font Size
Vice President Mike Pence (Screenshot)

( - Vice President Mike Pence called on Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to release American Pastor Andrew Brunson or face sanctions.

During his speech at the State Department’s first ever Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, the vice president called on Erdogan to “release Pastor Andrew Brunson now or be prepared to face the consequences,” specifically sanctions.

“To believers across America, I say, pray for Pastor Brunson. While he is out of jail, he is still not free. And to President Erdogan and the Turkish government, I have a message on behalf of the President of the United States of America: Release Pastor Andrew Brunson now or be prepared to face the consequences,” Pence said.

“If Turkey does not take immediate action to free this innocent man of faith and send him home to America, the United States will impose significant sanctions on Turkey until Pastor Andrew Brunson is free,” he added.

The vice president told members of the audience who were victims of persecution, “We are with you. The people of the United States are inspired by your testimony and your strength and your faith, and it steels our resolve to stand for your religious liberty in the years ahead.”

“But as we gather today, there’s one victim of religious persecution that bears mentioning as well, a victim of persecution who is not with us, an American named Pastor Andrew Brunson. Pastor Andrew Brunson is an American citizen who’s lived in Turkey for more than two decades, raising his family there, sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ faithfully in his ministry,” he said.

“In 2016, Pastor Brunson was arrested by Turkish authorities as part of a massive crackdown following a failed coup attempt. Tens of thousands of journalists, activists, judges, army officers, teachers, and others were arrested and remain in prison to this day,” Pence said.

“Pastor Brunson was in prison without being charged for more than a year, and when the Turkish government finally indicted him, they accused him allegedly of dividing and separating Turkey by simply spreading his Christian faith. Pastor Andrew Brunson is an innocent man. There is no credible evidence against him. Our entire administration has worked tirelessly to secure Pastor Brunson’s release,” he said.

As previously reported, Trump tweeted that Brunson had been “held hostage for far too long.”

“Yesterday, Turkey released Pastor Brunson from prison only to place him under house arrest. This is a welcome first step, but it is not good enough. I spoke to Pastor Brunson and his wife Noreen yesterday. I know that his faith will sustain him, but it shouldn’t have to. Pastor Andrew Brunson deserves to be free,” Pence said Thursday.

“Today, we’re honored to be joined by a member of his family, his daughter Jacqueline. To Jacqueline, I promise you as I told your father yesterday, President Trump and I will continue to fight to secure your father’s full release until he is restored to your family and returns to the United States of America,” the vice president said.

mrc merch