EXCLUSIVE: Evangelist Torben Søndergaard, Now in Jail for 4 Months, Was Arrested by FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force
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CBN News has learned that Danish evangelist Torben Søndergaard, who was taken into custody June 30th in Florida while awaiting a decision on a pending asylum application with the U.S. government, was arrested by an FBI agent with the Joint Terrorism Task Force and told the arrest was for gun smuggling, even though Søndergaard was never charged for that.
Søndergaard has been held in a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) jail, the Baker County Facility in MacClenny, Florida, since his arrest in June.
An ICE spokesman told CBN News that Søndergaard was arrested for overstaying his Visa.
ICE did not charge him with "gun smuggling," even though he was initially told this was the reason for his arrest.
Redacted government documents surrounding his arrest can be viewed here at friendsoftorben.com.
Søndergaard and his family fled Denmark in 2019, fearing persecution and arrest following a harassment campaign by the government and media.
They left for the U.S. with only what they could carry in 8 suitcases.
Torben is the founder of The Last Reformation, a worldwide movement that seeks to return Christianity to the Book of Acts. He also began the Jesus Center in Denmark, which trained disciples from 30 nations to spread this message around the world.
Attacks against his ministry in Denmark began in 2016, when the Jesus Center was investigated by six different Danish government agencies for everything from food safety to unpaid taxes. Officials found nothing wrong. The government then investigated their family when they began homeschooling.
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Danish TV infiltrated his ministry with undercover reporters for a documentary called "God's Best Children," which lumped Torben in with other leaders of so-called "radical Christian" ministries who had had serious moral or ethical failures or even criminal activity.
Torben told CBN News the documentary ruined his reputation in Denmark.
Upon his arrival in the U.S. in 2019, Søndergaard immediately applied for asylum and set up his residence in California while he grew his ministry.
He received no word about his application until a letter from the Department of Homeland Security summoned him to a meeting in Orlando, Florida on June 30th.
At the meeting, Søndergaard says he was accused by FBI agents of smuggling weapons into the U.S. from Mexico, a claim he wholeheartedly denies, and placed in handcuffs.
Søndergaard's legal team told CBN News that while ICE has discretion to detain someone who has an asylum application pending, it is extremely irregular for ICE to detain someone with a pending asylum application without criminal charges being involved.
His legal team also told us that if the original charge against him was overstaying his Visa, it would be irregular for him to be arrested by FBI agents from the Joint Terrorism Task Force, and not Immigration agents.
They also said Torben has lost at least 30 pounds since being jailed, but told CBN News, "It is very clear that God is providing him with supernatural strength and peace. He has started a prison ministry and oversees a team of believers that are hosting their own separate Bible studies. Many have come to Christ, have been delivered, and healed of physical ailments. Torben is clear-headed, informed, and full of compassion for those persecuting him. He said the hardest part is being separated from his wife and children. "
"Emotionally, this has been one of the hardest things I've ever experienced in my life, and it has been very humbling, and I have learned endurance like never before, and that it is important not to live by our feelings and emotions but to walk by the Spirit," Torben wrote in a recent Facebook post.
Søndergaard's immigration trial has been set for December 13.
His legal team told us they have filed an administrative request for release with ICE Detention officer Alan Young, who has the power to order Torben released from custody pending his asylum trial.
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