JAY SEKULOW, ACLJ
I just left a meeting with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office where I raised the case of American Pastor Andrew Brunson – who is wrongfully imprisoned in Turkey for his Christian faith – among other pressing legal issues to our country.
I told the President about the hundreds of thousands of you who are calling for the release of Pastor Andrew. I respectfully urged him to bring up Pastor Andrew’s case in the President’s planned meeting with Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, early next week.
Pastor Andrew has been unjustly imprisoned in Turkey for more than seven months. Pastor Andrew is a United States citizen from North Carolina, who has lived in Turkey for over 23 years, living peacefully as a pastor, humbly serving the people of Turkey.
The ACLJ’s global legal advocacy campaign is vigorously fighting for Pastor Andrew in both the U.S. and the international community, demanding Pastor Andrew’s release from Turkey. We are aggressively advocating for Pastor Andrew on Capitol Hill – working with key Senators, the State Department, and the Vice President. During U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to Turkey in March 2017, he raised Pastor Andrew’s case. And in April, Vice President Pence wrote Pastor Andrew’s wife a letter stating, “I can assure you both that the State Department and this White House, under President Trump’s leadership, consider Andrew’s release and reunification with you and your three children extremely important.”
In addition to our meetings with U.S. officials, the ACLJ, through its affiliate in Strasbourg, France, has submitted written and oral statements before the United Nations. In those statements we requested that the Council respectfully remind “Turkey . . . of its continuing obligations under its constitution as well as the ICCPR [International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights] and UDHR [Universal Declaration of Human Rights] to respect and value the freedom of religion.” Respecting its obligations would then require Turkey to swiftly release Pastor Andrew and return him safely to his family in the United States. In four days, we are once again submitting a legal filing at the U.N. calling for Pastor Andrew’s freedom.
Turkey has acknowledged Pastor Andrew’s imprisonment and the lack of evidence against him. Yet Pastor Andrew still languishes in his overcrowded prison cell – simply because of his Christian faith.
His wife, kids, and family desperately miss him.
Pastor Andrew’s mom and sister were with us in high-level meetings on Capitol Hill just a few weeks ago – urging key Senators and the State Department to bring Pastor Andrew home. His mom said:
When Andrew was a small child, he had a near death illness. At that time I gave him to the Lord for His purposes. For 23 years, I saw him love and serve the people of Turkey. It was a shock when this peaceful man was accused of being part of an armed terrorist group, an accusation that is clearly nonsense. He has been in prison 7 months, and having visited him there, I have seen the tremendous struggles he is experiencing. I wake every morning with a deep sadness. Yet, because of the huge outpouring prayers by God’s people, God has sustained him and I believe he will be delivered. And if not, we know eternity will be worth all temporary suffering, however intense, here on this earth.
This Mother’s Day weekend we’re working around the clock to bring this American son home.
Jay Sekulow is Chief Counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), one of the most prestigious law firms in the country. He is an accomplished Supreme Court advocate, renowned expert on religious liberty, a number 1 New York Times-bestselling author, and a respected broadcaster. Jay Sekulow is an attorney with a passion for protecting religious liberty – freedom – democracy. For nearly a quarter of a century, he’s been on the front lines – working to protect religious and constitutional freedoms in the courts, in Congress, and in the public arena. At the Supreme Court of the United States, Jay Sekulow has argued 12 cases – including several landmark cases which have become part of the legal landscape in the area of religious liberty litigation.
Used with the permission of the American Center for Law and Justice.