Turkey (MNN) — In all the commotion surrounding Pastor Andrew Brunson’s release last week, the arrest and interrogation of church worker David Byle went virtually undetected.
“He was arrested on Saturday after a routine ID check at an Ankara train station in Turkey,” describes Miles Windsor of Middle East Concern. “He was taken to the anti-terror police department…and he was interrogated extensively during that time…he then was released on Sunday afternoon.”
Turkish officials are demanding that Byle leave Turkey within 15 days of his arrest.
Who is David Byle?
David Byle, a Christian worker who holds joint U.S. and Canadian citizenship, has lived in Turkey since 2000. According to Windsor, this weekend’s encounter wasn’t the first time Turkish authorities threatened Byle with deportation.
“David has…had difficulties in Turkey for many years,” Windsor explains, adding that Byle’s first arrest occurred in 2007.
“The police report at that time accused him of missionary activity, disturbing the peace, and insulting Islam.”
The court dropped the charges in that case, but Byle was arrested again in 2009. This time around, Byle faced deportation for the first time. His lawyer successfully blocked the deportation order.
Then, “in 2016, he was detained for 8 days,” Windsor continues, “but his deportation was again stopped.”
How can we help him?
Please pray for wisdom for David and his wife as they consider their next steps. As described on MEC’s website, specific prayer requests include the following:
- Continued strength and encouragement for David and his family during this ordeal;
- That David will have the wisdom and guidance to know how to proceed, including in discussions with his co-workers;
- God’s comfort for the Christian community in Turkey, especially since this comes immediately after the trauma of Andrew Brunson’s detention and eventual release last Friday; and,
- That the Turkish state will stop its victimization of expatriate Christian workers.
Pray also for the work of Middle East Concern. MEC supports people in the Middle East and North Africa who are marginalized, discriminated against, or persecuted for being or becoming Christians.
“We’re monitoring both David’s situation and the situation of ex-patriate Christians more widely in Turkey,” notes Windsor. “It might be that Pastor Brunson’s release was the cause of some embarrassment for Turkey.
“Whilst we don’t think that the Turkish authorities will necessarily take action against other American citizens… they might be minded to cause problems for the wider Christian community.”