Daughter of imprisoned pastor Andrew Brunson pleads for father's release so that he could attend her wedding

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

Jacqueline Furnari, the daughter of imprisoned American pastor Andrew Brunson, has called on lawmakers to help secure the release of her father so that he could attend her wedding and walk her down the aisle.

Brunson, who had served as the Izmir Resurrection church for over 23 years, is currently being held in a Turkish prison over allegations of espionage and membership in an armed terrorist organization.

Last week, Furnari spoke at the U.S. Helsinki Commission hearing held in Congress to testify that her father was wrongfully imprisoned and needs to be reunited with his family.

"My husband and I decided to have a civil ceremony and to postpone our wedding until my father is home. I'm still waiting for my wedding. I'm still waiting to wear that wedding dress that I got almost a year and a half ago," Furnari said, according to CBN News.

"I'm still waiting for my dad to walk me down the aisle, and I'm still waiting for that father-daughter dance," she went on to say.

In addition to the allegations of espionage and terror links, Brunson was also accused of attempting to destroy constitutional order and overthrowing the Turkish parliament.

"Pastor Brunson maintains his innocence and denies all the accusations," testified CeCe Heil, executive counsel for American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), an organization fighting for the pastor's release.

Both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have appealed to the Turkish government for Brunson's release, but their requests were ignored.

In an article published on ACLJ's website, Heil expressed hope that Congress will "do everything in its power to ensure Pastor Andrew's immediate release from Turkey and safe return to his family here in the U.S."

The pastor was visited by representatives of U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) last month, almost a year to the day when he was detained.

According to USCIRF Vice Chairwoman Kristina Arriaga, Brunson had lost over 50 pounds due to the sustained stress that he endured during his incarceration.

The pastor was initially confined to a cell meant to accommodate only eight men but was crowded with 21 prisoners. He has since been transferred to Kiriklar Prison, where he is confined 24-hours a day to a cell with two other men.

In September, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan suggested that the pastor could be released if the U.S. government hands over Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, who is currently living in Pennsylvania.

Turkey has been seeking the extradition of Gülen, who is accused of instigating a failed military coup in July 2016.

The U.S. State Department, however, stated that there are no plans to extradite Gülen in exchange for the American pastor.

"I can't imagine that we would go down that road," said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert when asked about Erdogan's suggestion.