On Friday, Ed Morrissey celebrated the good news when we learned Pastor Andrew Brunson was being released by Turkey and heading home to the United States. We’ve been covering the Pastor’s story for well over a year here and it’s been a continual source of frustration. Having this good man back home and reunited with his family is a blessing and we owe a debt of gratitude to everyone who participated in the negotiations which led to his release.
The sights and sounds of Brunson’s arrival in Washington were heartening, and a rare moment of good news which could be celebrated in a bipartisan fashion. Fox News covered Brunson’s reception at the White House and the Pastor’s meeting with President Trump.
Freed American pastor Andrew Brunson met and prayed with President Trump in the Oval Office Saturday, thanking him for having “really fought for us” — a day after his release from house arrest in Turkey.
Brunson, from North Carolina, arrived in the U.S. earlier Saturday after stopping in Germany on Friday. Brunson was imprisoned in October 2016 due to his alleged ties to an outlawed group as part of a crackdown on a failed coup in Turkey against President Recep Erdogan’s government. A Turkish judge on Friday ordered him freed from house arrest on Friday after sentencing him to time served on terror and treason charges.
Having Brunson home is fantastic news, but it doesn’t address Turkey’s culpability in all of this. This release didn’t come with any sort of recognition of the wrong done to Brunson or America. He was still “convicted” on charges of terrorism and only let out with a sentence of time served. Both Brunson and the United States are owed far more than that.
Also, in the midst of all of this celebration, we need to remember that securing Brunson’s release was only one piece of a much larger puzzle which hasn’t been resolved in any meaningful way. There are up to one dozen other prisoners with American citizenship who are being held by the Tyrant of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. And he’s been threatening and bullying people in countries across Europe as he continues his paranoid attacks on his perceived enemies and consolidates all power in his own office.
On top of representing a danger to individuals, Erdogan has been playing a reckless game of international diplomacy and military intervention in his part of the world. Turkey has launched attacks on America’s Kurdish allies inside the borders of Syria and meddled with the Kurds across the Iraqi border as well. He’s been cozying up to Vladimir Putin as well as the governments of Iran and Venezuela.
Even as we welcome Pastor Brunson home, there is still an ongoing crisis unfolding in Turkey. A nation which was once held up as one of the great hopes of spreading freedom and democracy in that region has fallen back under the shadow of Tyranny and Islamic extremism. Turkey still maintains a critical position, both in terms of geography and military might, in that part of the world. Having that nation fall under Erdogan’s thumb is a danger to the entire world, so we can’t be lax about the situation simply because we secured the release of one political prisoner.
To close on an upscale note, this video from NBC News has many of the sights and sounds of Brunson’s arrival in Washington. It’s worth a look if you missed it on Friday.