Jailed American pastor pens heartbreaking note to wife from Turkish prison

Pastor Andrew Brunson appears in a screen capture of a video from the YouTube channel of the American Center for Law and Justice. | YouTube/OfficialACLJ

American evangelical Pastor Andrew Brunson has written a "heartbreaking" note to his wife as he remains locked away in a Turkish prison over his alleged links to a terror group.

According to the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), Brunson and his Turkish attorney had a formal meeting earlier this week with the prosecutor, but very little has been accomplished.

Shortly after the meeting, Brunson had sent a "hopeless and heartbreaking" note to his wife, Norine, via an embassy official.

"I am very discouraged. Please have prayer for me. I love you – can't handle the thought of growing old in this place, without you," the pastor said.

Brunson, who led a small Protestant church in Izmir, Turkey for over two decades, was arrested in October 2016 over allegations that he has links with a terror group.

The ACLJ, which has been supporting Brunson's family in the U.S., contended that the pastor is an "innocent U.S. citizen" who is being held as a political prisoner by the Turkish government.

The organization has also called attention to the deterioration of the pastor's emotional and physical state, as he continues to languish in prison.

Last week, 24 members of the Council of Europe signed a written declaration criticizing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for using the pastor as a "bargaining chip" with the U.S. to extradite Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Erdogan blames for the failed coup attempt in July 2016.

The document explained that Brunson has been held for more than 400 days, "without any reason, and in blatant violation of his rights."

"He has lived under inhumane conditions and lost over 50 pounds. While no evidence had ever been set forth to substantiate any crime from him, the Turkish authorities have systematically denied the multiple appeals contesting his detention," the written declaration read.

In October, Kristina Arriaga, vice chair of the congressionally mandated U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), was able to meet with the pastor for an hour.

During the visit, Arriaga noted that Brunson had seemed to have lost at least 50 pounds, compared to the photos she had seen of him.

She said that the pastor is living in a "place of psychological and physical dislocation," and he does not know about the charges filed against him.

"He asked us, 'How can a NATO ally country do this to me?' 'What are the charges filed against me? Am I going to be here for the rest of my life?'" Arriaga recalled.

The ACLJ had vowed to continue its efforts in securing the pastor's release before Congress, the Oval Office and the United Nations.