03/14/2020 India (International Christian Concern) – U.S. Members of Congress have sent a letter to India’s foreign secretary calling for the immediate release of an American pastor who has been detained in India for the past 5 months. In October 2019, Pastor Bryan Nerren, from Tennessee, was arrested by Indian officials after being accused of violating the country’s Foreign Exchange Management Act.
According to the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), Pastor Nerren and two other pastors from Tennessee arrived in India on October 5 to attend two conferences in India and Nepal. ACLJ reports that Pastor Nerren was then targeted and arrested by Indian customs agents after he told them he was a Christian.
After the three pastors arrived in New Delhi, Pastor Nerren was detained by customs agents while proceeding through the domestic security check for a flight to Bagdogra. According to ACLJ, the pastor was carrying funds to cover the expenses for the two conference as well as the two-week trip for himself and the other pastors. Customs agents questioned Pastor Nerren about the funds and their usage for about an hour.
According to ACLJ, customs agents specifically asked Pastor Nerren if he was a Christian and if the funds would be used to support Christian causes. After fully explaining what the funds were to be used for, the customs agents told Pastor Nerren he was free to go. However, when Pastor Nerren arrived in Bagdogra, he was arrested and transported to Siliguri where he was incarcerated for six days and not allowed any visitors, including visitors from the U.S. Consulate.
Pastor Nerren was able to secure bail after six days in jail. However, the judge retained Pastor Nerren’s passport and ordered a travel ban. According to ACLJ, Pastor Nerren has been effectively trapped in Siliguri for the past five months.
On Thursday, March 12, Senators Marsha Blackburn and James Lankford, along with Representatives Scott Des Jarlais and Jody Hice, sent a letter to India’s foreign secretary calling for Pastor Nerren’s immediate release. According to ACLJ, Pastor Nerren has complied with the demands of Indian authorities and the case against him has been tried and resolved.