Pastor Andrew Brunson says he’s probably ‘one of the most hated men in Turkey’ where he was detained

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Pastor Andrew Brunson, the American who was detained in Turkey for two years before his release over the weekend, said he is "hated" in the country where he had lived and worked for more than 20 years in large part because of the Turkish government's accusation that he spied and was linked to terrorism.

"At this point I’m one of the most hated men in Turkey, probably," Brunson told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on "Good Morning America" Tuesday.

Brunson, 50, was a Christian evangelist in Turkey for more than 20 years before he was arrested in October 2016 and accused by the Turkish government of espionage and ties to terrorist groups. He, his lawyers and the U.S. deny those charges.

"We were never involved in anything political," Brunson told Stephanopoulos. He said he and his wife were shocked by their arrest, which happened on their oldest son's birthday.

Prior to his release over the weekend, Brunson's case had created a deep rift in U.S.-Turkish relations, with the Trump administration heavily committed to securing his freedom and punishing its NATO ally with economic penalties for not doing so. An evangelical Christian pastor, he had also become a rallying cry for religious freedom advocates in the U.S.

The Turkish court sentenced him Friday to three years and one a half months, but given his time served and that it was his first arrest, his house arrest and travel ban were lifted. He was flown out of the country that Friday on a U.S. military aircraft, stopping in Germany for a medical evacuation before landing in Washington Saturday. There, he met with President Trump in an Oval Office welcome celebration.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Check Also

Parents brawl during youth baseball game after disagreeing with 13-year-old umpire

Parents brawl during youth baseball game after disagreeing with 13-year-old umpirefstop123/iStock(LAKEWOOD, Colo.) -- A baseball game between a group of 7-year-old kids degenerated into an all-out brawl with parents throwing haymakers, other cowering for cover and a woman even jumping on someone's back.

The reason for the brawl: a parent didn't like the calls being made by a 13-year-old umpire.

The fight began at Westgate Elementary School in Lakewood, Colo., a suburb southwest of Denver, on Saturday at about noon as 15 to 20 adults got into a violent tussle, according to Lakewood police.

The brawl was still ongoing as Lakewood police arrived at the scene.

These adults took over the field and began assaulting each other on 6/15 during a youth baseball game. We're looking for any info, in particular to ID the man in the white shirt/teal shorts. Several people have already been cited in this fight and injuries were reported. pic.twitter.com/ieenhwCrbU

— Lakewood Police (@LakewoodPDCO) June 18, 2019

Police issued four citations for disorderly conduct, but said they are still searching for others involved in the fight.

Police are looking for an adult in a white T-shirt and teal shorts in particular because he can be seen in the video throwing sucker punches at people looking in the other direction. Police said it is unknown if this person is a parent of one of the children in the game.

There were a few minor injuries and one person suffered serious bodily injury, police told ABC News. No details on the injury were available.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.