Christian Pastor Andrew Brunson has been in custody in Turkey for the past six months, and the charges remain unclear.
— ACLJ (@ACLJ) March 30, 2017
But now the Trump administration is getting involved in seeking answers – and eventually Brunson’s release.
In 2013, Trump was critical of then-President Obama’s handling of the case of Saeed Abedini, a Christian pastor who eventually went free in 2016 as part of a prisoner swap deal between the Obama administration and Iran.
Back then, Trump said of the Abedini case:
“This is negotiation 101. This would have been so simple,” Trump said. “All you had to do is, before they even started (negotiations with Iran), say, ‘Do us both a favor — allow the Christian pastor out of jail for being Christian. He’s in jail because he’s a Christian.”
“I’d say with proper word usage, which is possibly not so easy for them … and proper negotiating skill, they would let him out in a heartbeat. Ask that he be released,” Trump said. “The way you do it is say, ‘This is good for both of us. It just works for both of us.’”
Until recently, some wondered if Trump would take his own advice in Brunson’s case, and it looks as though he finally has.
In late March, Brunson issued a message pleading with the White House to stand up for his freedom, which spurred a meeting between Brunson’s wife Norine and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
“PTL, I just had a 20 min meeting with Sec of State Tillerson,” she wrote. “I do not know what will come of it, considering the sensitive period Turkey is in, but was grateful for the opportunity.”
Tillerson has also apparently met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who reportedly informed the secretary that Turkish authorities would unseal the records of Brunson’s case soon, allowing the pastor’s lawyers to see the evidence against their client.
This case will be worth watching, and hopefully we’ll have positive developments to share about it soon.