Andrew Brunson Biography
Andrew Craig Brunson is an American pastor and a teaching elder of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. Brunson was arrested in October 2016 in Turkey, where he had lived since the mid-1990s, during the purges occurring after the 2016 Turkish coup d’état attempt against Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (along with the arrests of tens of thousands of Turkish military personnel, civil servants, educators, dissidents, academics, and journalists ).
Brunson published a memoir in 2019, about his ordeal. He is an evangelical pastor of the Izmir Resurrection Church, a small Protestant church with about 25 congregants. T-Online describes the church as having been held in a room in a tenement.
Andrew Brunson Age
Andrew Craig Brunson was born in 1968 in Black Mountain, North Carolina, United States. He is 51 years old as of 2019.
Andrew Brunson Height
Brunson stands at a height of 1.77 meters
Andrew Brunson Wife – Children
Andrew Brunson is married to Norine Brunson and the couple has three children, including their known daughter named Jacqueline Furnari. Brunson and his wife, Norine, was initially arrested alongside him, in 2016 but was released after 13 days.
Andrew Brunson Net Worth
Brunson has a net worth of $2 million U.S dollars.
Andrew Brunson’s Arrest
Brunson who is originally from Black Mountain, North Carolina, is married and has three children. He lived in Turkey for 23 years where he served as pastor of the Izmir Resurrection Church. Brunson, who was applying for Turkish permanent residency, was imprisoned on October 7, 2016 as part of the purges that followed the failed 2016 coup attempt. Brunson’s wife, Norine, was initially arrested alongside him, but was released after 13 days. For a time Brunson was held with 21 others in a cell that was made for eight prisoners. Brunson reportedly lost over 50 pounds (20 kg) while he was in prison. On July 25, 2018, he was moved to house arrest.
Andrew Brunson Released
On September 28, 2017, Erdoğan unsuccessfully proposed exchanging Brunson for Fethullah Gülen, an Islamic preacher accused of supporting the coup attempt from his exile in the United States. US Vice President Pence called on Erdoğan on July 26, 2018, to release Brunson or face significant sanctions. The U.S. Department of Treasury imposed sanctions on August 1, 2018, on two top Turkish government officials who were involved in the detention of Brunson, Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül and Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu.
The Trump administration successfully secured the release of Brunson in October 2018, after U.S. economic sanctions and tariffs were placed on Turkey. Brunson was convicted on October 12, 2018, by Turkish authorities, on the charge of aiding terrorism, but sentenced to time served. Brunson was released from Turkish custody and immediately returned to the United States.
Andrew Brunson’s Indictment
Primarily, the Turkish government claimed that Brunson was a member of the Gülen movement, but also claimed that he worked with the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and claimed that he was involved with American espionage, among other things. Additionally, they claimed that Brunson was interested in overthrowing the Turkish government and that he supposedly helped plan the coup, which he denied.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu claimed that the case was triggered by a complaint from a translator. The Turkish government claimed that they didn’t know about the case until the consulate addressed it. Brunson’s trial caused a major public diplomatic row between the United States and Turkey. The United States stood firm in its argument that the trial was unacceptable because the government “has not seen credible evidence Mr. Brunson is guilty of a crime and are convinced that he is innocent.“, as the State Department stated.
The Trump administration insisted that the Turkish government free Brunson entirely. Turkish government objected to this on the basis of this being an interference with the country’s sovereignty. Erdogan objected to the idea of interfering with the courts, arguing that he shouldn’t on the basis that they are independent.
Andrew Brunson’s Case Hearing
A hearing for his case occurred in May 2018, in Aliaga that lasted eleven hours. The judge dismissed all of Brunson’s defence witnesses without listening to any of their testimony. The prosecution used secret witnesses who “testified through video monitors that distorted their faces and voices in order to conceal their identities”. Vice Chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, Sandra Jolley attended the case, and released the following statement:
“We leave the courthouse with serious concerns. Today’s eleven hours of proceedings were dominated by wild conspiracies, tortured logic and secret witnesses, but no real evidence to speak of. Upon these rests a man’s life” Sandra Jolley described the judge’s decision not to allow any of the witnesses called by Brunson’s defense to testify on his behalf as “simply unconscionable”. The judge would relent in a later hearing. Hearings were held on July 13, 2018.
On October 12, 2018, at Brunson’s final hearing several prosecution witnesses retracted their earlier statements which led to his release that same day.
Andrew Brunson Case Trial
Andrew Brunson was held for over a year without charges. Turkish prosecutors charged Andrew with involvement in the failed July 2016 coup attempt. Turkish media reported that Brunson had been accused of espionage and attempting to overthrow the government. Brunson was originally charged with having links to FETÖ and PKK (both are considered terrorist organizations by the Turkish state).
The New York Times reported that two secret witnesses accused Brunson of “hosting Kurdish refugees in a guesthouse and holding services and gatherings sympathetic to the PKK”. Andrew Brunson denied helping the coup and denied he had intentionally had contact with either group blamed for the coup. Brunson was one of 20 American citizens who was prosecuted in connection with the post-coup purges.
Andrew Brunson on PKK-related
The prosecution claimed that Andrew Brunson was a collaborator with armed Kurdish groups, that he went to YPG territory in Syria (specifically Kobani and Turkey’s Suruç district) and that he wanted to Christianize Kurdistan and have it be a Christian state. He claimed that he evangelized Syrian refugees without regard to their ethnic identity and strongly denied the idea that he had any connection with PKK members.
The Turkish prosecution claimed that there was GPS data that placed him near the Syrian border. According to a July 2018 article in World by Aykan Erdemir and Merve Tahiroglu, there was a photograph that features both Brunson and a man wearing a yellow, red, and green scarf, which is presented as proof of his involvement with Kurdish nationalist terrorism. It is claimed by the prosecution that Brunson published Kurdish Bibles. It is also claimed that Brunson was part of an operation to help Kurdish families write asylum letters to Canada that strongly criticized the AKP and MHP.
Andrew Brunson America-related
The Turkish prosecution claimed that Brunson helped the CIA with the attempted coup. In relation to claims about Christianity, the indictment also made the claim that there was a so-called “Mormon Gang” within American intelligence. It was alleged by one of the witnesses that Andrew Brunson’s church was supposedly a waypoint for co-ordinates between the CIA and YPG due to alleged support for the PKK. Brunson was accused of attending an event in a Turkish hotel where the American anthem was allegedly playing and several Turkish college students put their right hand on their heart and made vows, which the prosecution further alleges was some kind of “brainwashing” of these alleged students.
Andrew Brunson Christianity-related
The indictment also made many other broad claims about Christianity and the United States government that the Asheville Citizen-Times described as conspiracy theories. As per the Asheville Citizen-Times, the indictment contained a “lengthy discourse on the alleged influence of Mormons in Turkey” (Brunson is not Mormon). According to World, the secret witness was specifically concerned with English teachers at the nation’s “military high schools”. The secret witness also made claims about them missing fingers. Brunson is not Mormon, but is alleged to have LDS contacts, which they further allege is suspicious.
According to the Asheville Citizen-Times, it also contained an accusation that every church in the United States is connected to some organization with the acronym “CAMA”, that “holds sway over” every one of them. The indictment also made the claim that every evangelical missionary and Mormon missionary who wants to leave the United States must have permission from this organization, indicating that they allege that it influences both. (However, Protestants and Mormons have many theological disagreements.) This group is unfamiliar to Christian officials within the ACLJ, who view it as an “unfounded” theory.
It was also alleged by the prosecution that there are websites on the internet that describe Turkish president Erdogan as the Antichrist and the indictment almost suggests it as a motive for Brunson, a Christian, to help the coup plotters. The Citizen-Times argued that theory is most likely overshadowed by theories regarding more popular leaders, wildly obscure, and not likely to be widely believed in.
Andrew Brunson Further claims by Turkish media
A December 14, 2016, a Sabah daily news story, said to be based on an informant, claimed that Andrew Brunson, while dispensing aid among Syrian refugees, tried to divide Turkey with sermons praising Gülenism and by speaking in support of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The pro-Erdogan administration newspaper Takvim alleges that Brunson was a “high-level member of the Gülen movement” and an American spy, positioned to become CIA chief in Turkey had the 2016 coup attempt succeeded.
Takvim’s editor-in-chief, Ergun Diler, alleged that Andrew Brunson fended off an assassination attempt thanks to his intelligence agency training, further claiming that Brunson was influential all over the region. Diler speculated that the CIA would assassinate Brunson in prison if it thought he would not be deported back to the U.S.
Andrew Brunson Book
Andrew Brunson has written a book God’s Hostage, which was released in October 15, 2019 which is based on the incredible true story of his imprisonment, his brokenness and his eventual freedom. Anyone with a heart for missions, especially to the Muslim world, will love this tension-laden and faith-laced book.
Andrew Brunson was asked to travel to Turkey in 1993, the largest unevangelized country in the world, to serve as a missionary. Though hesitant because of the daunting and dangerous task that lay ahead, Brunson and his wife, Norine, believed this was God’s plan for them.
What followed was a string of threats and attacks, but also successes in starting new churches in a place where many people had never met a Christian. As their work with refugees from Syria, including Kurds, gained attention and suspicion, Brunson and Norine acknowledged the threat but accepted the risk, determining to stay unless God told them to leave.
They were arrested in 2016. Though the State eventually released Norine, who remained in Turkey, Andrew was imprisoned. Accused of being a spy and being among the plotters of the attempted coup, he became a political pawn whose story soon became known around the world.