Aderholt Calls on Nicaragua to Release Imprisoned Pastors

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WASHINGTON — Congressman Robert Aderholt (R-AL) on Friday, February 16  released a bicameral, bipartisan letter signed by 58 Members of Congress addressed to the Ambassador of Nicaragua expressing deep concern regarding violations of religious freedom in Nicaragua and calling for the release of imprisoned pastors. The letter states, “As Members of the United States Congress, we have a vested interest in both the upholding of international religious freedom, and the safety and security of the American citizens we understand are currently being targeted for arrest and extradition by the Nicaraguan government.”

Robert Aderholt

In December 2023, eleven Nicaraguan pastors and other individuals associated with Mountain Gateway–a Christian organization based in Texas with missionary presence in North and Central America– were arrested and imprisoned by the Nicaraguan government without access to legal counsel, understanding of the allegations against them, or documentation of their alleged criminal charges. Prior to this, Mountain Gateway had a longstanding and welcomed presence in Nicaragua.

The arrested and imprisoned people include a young mother of a newborn and a toddler, both of whom are Americans. She has not been allowed any contact with her children since December.

Subsequent to the arrests of Nicaraguan nationals, the Ortega regime issued warrants for the arrest of the American leadership of Mountain Gateway, Jon Britton Hancock and his son and daughter-in-law Jacob and Cassandra Hancock.

This targeted action follows a pattern by the Nicaraguan government, including the arrests of several members of the Catholic Church, Red Cross, and other non-governmental organizations in recent years.

“Today, I led a letter along with 53 Members and 4 Senators to the Ambassador of Nicaragua expressing deep concern and asking for answers on religious freedom violations in Nicaragua,” said Rep. Aderholt. “We are deeply concerned for the welfare of these Christian men and women of faith who have been arrested and imprisoned for no other offense than sharing the Gospel.  This is part of a larger pattern of human rights and religious freedom violations in Nicaragua.”

“It was religious persecution that detained them, and it is blatant human rights violations that have kept them detained – these pastors must be released immediately.”

Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-AL) added: “As Americans, we must stand up for religious freedom around the world,” said Rep. Terri A. Sewell.  “I am alarmed by the recent detainment of members of Mountain Gateway, who have not been provided legal counsel or documentation of their alleged charges.  I am calling on the Nicaraguan government to immediately address these violations of fundamental human rights.”

Congressman Jerry Carl (R-AL) said:  “The persecution of Christians around the world is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

I am fighting for these Christians who have been wrongfully imprisoned for sharing the gospel to be freed. I have demanded Secretary Blinken engage in this matter.  I have joined several of my colleagues in expressing our concern to the Nicaraguan Ambassador regarding these violations of religious freedom that must be addressed.”

Congressman Dale Strong (R-AL) said: “It is extremely concerning to me to hear that individuals associated with Mountain Gateway are being persecuted by the Nicaraguan government for their religious beliefs. I proudly stand with the Alabama Delegation to advocate for my brothers and sisters in Christ who are doing missions in Nicaragua.”

The full letter can be read here.

Media Release/Office of Congressman Robert Aderholt

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