American evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson has sent a "heartbreaking" message to his wife as he continues to languish in a Turkish prison 16 months after his arrest. He admitted he is struggling to deal with his situation.
"I am very discouraged. Please have prayer for me," Brunson said in a note to his wife, Norine, via an embassy official, according to the American Center for Law and Justice.
"I love you — can't handle the thought of growing old in this place, without you."
The ACLJ, which has been assisting the pastor's family in the U.S., insists that Brunson is an "innocent U.S. citizen" who is being held as a political prisoner by the government of Turkish President Recep Erdogan.
The law group has also warned that the pastor's emotional and physical state continues to deteriorate, with little being accomplished in the way of his freedom, despite finally being allowed to formally meet with the prosecutor in Turkey last week.
The pastor, who had lived in Turkey for over two decades and led a small Protestant church in Izmir, was arrested in October 2016, accused by authorities of having links with a terror group.
Officials apparently believe that Brunson has ties to U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Erdogan has blamed for the failed 2016 coup against his government. The pastor has denied such links.
The ACLJ has warned that Brunson can be held in prison for as many as seven years without any formal charges being filed against him. The pastor has filed a case for wrongful detention, but it is still pending.