MARY REICHARD, HOST: Next up on The World and Everything in It: an excerpt from Listening In.
This week, a conversation with Pastor Andrew Brunson, who was imprisoned in Turkey for nearly two years.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Brunson and his wife served as missionaries to Turkey for 23 years before his arrest.
His incarceration became international news as the Turkish government accused him of spying and terrorism.
In this part of their conversation, Warren Smith asks Pastor Brunson about those claims.
WARREN SMITH: Do you have any idea how those rumors started and why they were perpetuated? Was it a part of the, sort of the propaganda to keep you in prison?
ANDREW BRUNSON: At the beginning, the government gave a number of reasons to the U S government for keeping us, but it wasn’t public and they changed. They made up all kinds of reasons and they would every two or three weeks I’d give a different reason. They were trying to find something that would stick. Once president Trump asked for me to be returned to the States when he had a summit with the Turkish president in may of 2017, then the Turkish response to that from the government, they had a day when they weren’t sure what to do. And then the next day is like the mouth of hell opened. And, all of these things started to come out in the newspapers and on the television, a lot of stories. And they came from the government about at least 90 percent of the Turkish, media is related to the Turkish government at this point.
And so it was orchestrated and driven by the Turkish government. They said I was part of the PKK, which was a Kurdish, terror movement. They, as you mentioned that I was a special forces officer, that I had many special forces officers under me. Our goal there was to, dismembered Turkey. They said I was ahead of the CIA in Turkey than in the whole middle East. And they said that if I had—I was offered the directorship of the CIA if only I had been successful in the coup that took place in 2016. And then there were a lot of other inflammatory things about espionage and about my threatening to cut the heads of Turks off and, you know, things that were very inflammatory. And the reason for doing this was to paint me in a bad light and to basically present Christians as being traitors, people who hate Turkey and who are trying to hurt the country. And by doing it to me, they also preparing the way to paint the whole church in this way.