'Shock and Betrayal' Andrew Brunson's Daughter Dismayed by Father's Imprisonment, Still Waiting for Her Father to Walk Her Down the Aisle
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Imprisoned Pastor Andrew Brunson's daughter, Jacqueline Brunson Furnari, told a newspaper her family feels "shock and betrayal" that Turkey has jailed her father on charges she calls "absurd."
Brunson has been jailed in Turkey since 2016 over charges that he aided terrorist organizations, which he and the U.S. government deny.
In testimony to the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe late last year, the 19 year-old Furnari said her father has missed two of the biggest milestones in her life; her graduation from UNC Chapel Hill and her marriage.
She told the commisson:
"In February I got married. We didn't want to get married without my parents present, but because my husband is in the military, we could not postpone it. We had received my father's blessing, but we felt so terrible about getting married while he was imprisoned. Neither of my parents were present when I got married. I will never get that moment back. For those of you who are fathers to daughters, I'm sure you would want to walk your daughter down the aisle. My father didn't get that. I didn't get that. My husband and I decided to have a civil ceremony and to postpone our wedding ceremony until my father is home. I'm still waiting for my wedding. I'm still waiting to wear the wedding dress that I got almost a year and half ago. I'm still waiting for my dad to walk me down the aisle. I'm still waiting for that father-daughter dance."
She said when she visited her father in a Turkish jail in August, 2017, "We sobbed the entire visit. It was hard to fit words in because the emotions were too strong and only led to more tears. It was hard to see my father so broken, so thin, so desperate. He hated having us kids see him that way."
Furnari, who now lives in Texas, moved to Turkey as a child in 1993. She said she and her brothers attended a Turkish grade school, "...because my parents wanted us to learn the language and feel comfortable in the culture. To me, it was home. On holidays, we sometimes hung a Turkish flag from our balcony, as our neighbors did. We loved and respected the Turkish people, and my parents were dedicated to serving the Turkish people for as long as they could."
Andrew Brunson faces a 35-year prison sentence.
U.S. Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback said he believes Brunson will be released.
"This administration is deeply engaged on religious freedom," Brownback said in an exclusive interview with CBN's National Security Correspondent Erik Rosales. "I do believe Andrew Brunson will be brought home. It doesn't make any sense what the Turkish government is doing. There is no factual basis for these charges,"
Brownback said President Donald Trump is doing all he can to free the pastor who sits in one of Turkey's worst prisons.
"The Turks are using this at a high level, and it's hurting the relationship between the United States and Turkey. People need to keep praying for him and the people of Turkey," said Brownback.
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