By Eli Okun
Andrew Brunson, the American pastor whose two-year detention in Turkey became a diplomatic flashpoint, on Wednesday called on the international community not to forget the other Americans still being held there.
Four months after his release, hours after attending the State of the Union and just days before his daughter’s wedding, Brunson spoke at a Capitol Hill reception to thank the U.S. government for ensuring “that I was not forgotten.” He called the U.S. government’s emphasis on religious freedom “very unusual” and “very admirable.” In particular, he singled out the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a bipartisan government advisory body that was hosting the reception.
But the pastor also urged global leaders to turn their attention to the other Americans still held in Turkey on what many believe are specious charges.
“There’s still a number of American citizens who are held in Turkey, and I hope that there will be continued interest in getting them released,” he added. “I was the only one who was not a dual citizen. … I don’t think any of them are guilty either, but they’re being held as leverage. So may they not be forgotten.”