CECE HEIL, ACLJ
Today – the 313th day of American Pastor Andrew Brunson’s wrongful imprisonment in Turkey because of his Christian faith –the State Department released a report on International Religious Freedom, highlighting Pastor Andrew’s plight.
Although the report analyzes freedom violations across the world, in his remarks, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson specifically addressed the plight of Pastor Andrew. He stated, “[T]he United States continues to advocate for the release of Pastor Andrew Brunson who has been wrongfully imprisoned in Turkey.”
Secretary Tillerson opened his remarks by stating the purpose of the report and the requirement of the law that the U.S. must stand:
“for liberty and with the persecuted, to use and implement appropriate tools in the United States foreign policy apparatus, including diplomatic, political, commercial, charitable, educational, and cultural channels, to promote respect for religious freedom by all governments and peoples.”
As previously reported, Pastor Andrew has been wrongfully detained in Turkey since October 7th of last year, after serving as a pastor in Turkey for over 23 years.
As we approach almost a year of Pastor Andrew languishing in a prison cell, there has yet to be any formal indictment handed down, although one was promised months ago. As Secretary Tillerson stated in his remarks regarding religious freedom, “[w]e cannot ignore these conditions.” We must continue to increase our efforts to make sure Pastor Andrew is released to be reunited with his family and once again is able to enjoy the religious freedom to which he is entitled.
We are continuing our aggressive global legal advocacy, including at the highest levels of the U.S. government, for Pastor Andrew’s freedom. Please join us by signing and sharing our petition to Free Pastor Andrew.
CeCe Heil is a Senior Counsel specializing in public policy and global legal matters including the United Nations. She heads a team of lawyers handling cases in defense of life, protection of US National Security interests and dealing with Islamic extremism.