Daughter of U.S. Christian Pastor Andrew Brunson Seeking Trump’s Help to Secure His Release from Turkey

The daughter of American pastor Andrew Brunson, who was detained nearly six months ago and remains held in a Turkish prison without formal charges, is pleading for an audience with President Trump and asking for his help securing her father’s release.

“We really, really want to get this case, my father’s case, to President Trump,” 19-year-old Jacqueline Brunson, a student in North Carolina, told Fox News in an interview via Skype. “We really feel it would be helpful to have the president’s support and have him personally arguing for my father’s case to get him back home safely to his family.”

Brunson was detained in October along with his wife in the Turkish coastal town of Izmir where he has carried out his ministry for two decades. The arrests were part of Turkish authorities’ broad crackdown after the 2016 failed military coup.

According to Republican Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford, who has worked quietly behind the scenes to secure Brunson’s release, the couple was called in for a routine visa check when the ordeal began.

“Instead they were detained there at the police station, saying they may be part of a terrorist plot,” Lankford said. “Then they released his wife but kept him and then later transferred Dr. Brunson to a prison facility.”

In December, Lankford personally travelled to the Turkish capital Ankara and met with their department of justice. “For the first time, we learned what these charges are. They were given to me orally.”

Lankford said the Turkish authorities alleged that Brunson had helped Kurdish refugees (Turkey labels the Kurds an insurgent group) and that the pastor attended a conference sponsored by Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen, whom the Turkish government accused of instigating the 2016 coup from his Pennsylvania base.

“It seemed very odd for them to be able to pick up … an American citizen that’s been serving for more than 20 years in Turkey, and has been very engaged, very accepted by the culture and then suddenly, for him to be swept up and to be part of a terrorist investigation without any evidence, with just an accusation — and still to this day, six months later, no charges,” Lankford said.

“This is a completely false accusation, there is nothing to back this up,” Jacqueline Brunson said. “In it all, he’s remaining faithful. He’s saying, ‘God I don’t understand what is happening, I don’t know how much longer this can last. I don’t know what is going to happen in the end.’ What he is saying, is, ‘God I’m still choosing you to follow despite everything.’”

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Cyd Upson