Turkey orders deportation of American pastor for missionary activities

Armenian Evangelical Church, Istanbul | Wikimedia Commons/Chris06

Turkish authorities recently detained an American pastor for his alleged missionary activities. On Sept. 28, Andrew Craig Brunson, pastor of Izmir Resurrection Church, received a notification from the Izmir Immigration Authority that he and his wife Norine are due to be deported.

According to Hurriyet Daily News, the couple, who have been living in Turkey for over 20 years, was detained on Oct. 7 when they went to the police station to respond to the notice. They were accused of conducting missionary activities and receiving foreign funds which are said to be "against national security."

World Watch Monitor reported that the authorities did not permit the couple to contact U.S. consular officals or lawyers. Initial attempts to send personal items to Brunson and his wife have been denied. Earler this week, the officials allowed them to receive clothing and medicine but a Bible was refused.

A lawyer that tried to visit the Brunsons was told that they already signed a statement saying they do not want an attorney. The authorities were not able to produce the signed statement.

Norine was released on Oct. 19 but her husband was transferred to the Cigli Detention Center in the northern part of Izmir on Thursday.

The U.S. embassy in Ankara is already following the case of the Brunsons, according to an Izmir church leader.

Other foreign Christians have also received similar deportation orders from the Interior Ministry in Turkey. David Byle, a Candadian-American, was detained in April when his application to renew his residence visa was denied. Immigration authorities were advised to deport Byle and consider him as a "danger to public order."

Three cases have been filed by Byle's lawyer to challenge his arrest, deportation order and re-entry ban. He continues to live in Turkey while the cases remain on hold.

Over 100 foreign Protestants have faced deportation in the last four years, according to Al-Monitor. There are concerns that Protestants have been increasingly targeted since Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared a state of emergency on July 21, following a July 15 coup attempt.