American Evangelist at the Center of Latest Dispute With Turkey
In the most recent diplomatic firestorm between the Trump administration and the Turkish government led by President Recep Erdogen, it is once again an American evangelist who has found himself in legal jeopardy and in need of diplomatic intervention.
The American pastor, Andrew Brunson, was first accused of "christianizing" in the 99.8% sunni muslim country, and was subsequently jailed for conspiring with two groups hostile to the Erdogen government.
The Turkish leader has conducted a campaign of repression and retribution against his political foes since the attempted coup in 2016, imprisoning tens of thousands of Turkish military personnel, civil servants, educators, academics, dissidents, and journalists.
Brunson has been jailed since 2016 under severe conditions, and only recently has been released into "house arrest" with electronic monitoring.
President Trump has made it a priority to gain the evangelist's release, and his administration initiated unprecedented sanctions against a NATO ally, targeting two of Erdogen's ministers. Erdogen retaliated against the ministers' U.S. counterparts by sanctioning them and freezing their assets in Turkey. It is unclear whether the U.S. officials have assets in Turkey.