A Christian pastor who has been detained in Turkey for 21 months has been released after President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence threatened to impose a new “harsh policy” and sanctions, according to Reuters.
Andrew Brunson, a North Carolina native, left a Turkish prison on Wednesday and will reportedly be transferred to house arrest. Many are crediting Trump sand Pence for his release from prison, as the White House threatened to impose a new round of brutal sanctions on Turkey if the American pastor was not released.
Brunson, who has worked in Turkey for more than 20 years, was detained on Oct. 2016 and charged with helping a group the Turkish government claims was connected to a failed military coup that year.
He is required to wear an electronic monitor on his ankle and cannot leave the country, but he is no longer stuck in a detention facility. Turkey allowing Brunson to leave detention is considered by many to be a concession and attempt to quell tensions with America.
President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence threaten to impose "large sanctions" on its NATO ally Turkey if the country does not release American pastor Andrew Brunson who is currently under house arrest https://t.co/zkNdlbeJjj pic.twitter.com/0gBE3AYlS1
— CNN (@CNN) July 26, 2018
Brunson was released on Wednesday, but only after the U.S. threatened to unveil a new tough policy against them.
Just one day before his release, Brunson’s daughter, Jacqueline Furnari, had spoken tearfully to the Ministerial gathering about her father’s plight and how badly she prayed for him to return home:
“[He] has been permanently changed by this experience. Even when this ordeal is over, he will never be the same person that he was.”
“In his trial last week, my father forgave the witnesses who falsely testified against him, saying, ‘My faith teaches me to forgive, so I forgive those who testified against me. It is a privilege to suffer for the sake of Christ.'”
The next day, her father was reunited with her mother in their Izmir home. And thanks to Trump and Pence dropping the hammer on Turkey, Brunson is closer than ever to being released back home.
On Thursday, Trump tweeted that the U.S. intended to impose substantial sanctions on Turkey in retaliation for Brunson’s imprisonment, which the administration has said it views as being political.
“The United States will impose large sanctions on Turkey for their long-time detainment of Pastor Andrew Brunson, a great Christian, family man, and wonderful human being.”
The United States will impose large sanctions on Turkey for their long time detainment of Pastor Andrew Brunson, a great Christian, family man and wonderful human being. He is suffering greatly. This innocent man of faith should be released immediately!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2018
Pence followed Trump’s lead, issuing a statement of his own condemning Turkey:
“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.”
“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.”
The president has made it clear several times that this father and husband should be brought back home to his family, and his threat of unveiling a “harsh policy” and substantial sanctions against Turkey helped get one step closer to that goal.