BLACK MOUNTAIN, N.C. (WLOS) -- A Black Mountain native doing Christian missionary work overseas is now in prison.
Pastor Andrew Brunson is accused of being a member of a terrorist group 23-years after establishing a church in Turkey. The family of the imprisoned pastor said what's happening is unbelievable and that his arrest came out of nowhere.
Brunson went to the Aegean seaside city of Izmir more than two-decades-ago and founded the Resurrection Church. His daughter Jacqueline grew-up there and only returned to the states to attend business school at UNC-Chapel Hill.
She says that back in October her dad was arrested on a charge of being a threat to national security. First, there was the likelihood of deportation, but now Pastor Brunson's in prison for alleged membership in a terrorist organization.
"He's being held on charges that are completely false. Very serious," Jacqueline said. "It would be wonderful if they would release him and deport him back to the U.S. In fact, that was what Turkey said they were going to do."
That was more than two months ago.
The ACLJ says a failed coup in July caused a security crackdown in the country, with deportations no longer needing a judge's approval. The group representing Pastor Brunson believes Christians are being singled-out.
Jacqueline has not been allowed to talk with her father. She has sent him one letter but doesn't know whether he's even received it.
There's an online petition trying to get the attention of the U.S. and Turkish governments to set Pastor Andrew Brunson free. CLICK HERE if you'd like to sign the petition.