Originally published in CBN News
A Florida immigration judge has denied evangelist Torben Søndergaard’s request for asylum.
Judge Yon Alberdi, an appointee of Obama Attorney General Eric Holder, ruled Søndergaard did not meet the requirements for asylum.
Søndergaard’s attorneys are filing an appeal. They have also filed a defamation lawsuit against a North Carolina man who Søndergaard’s legal team claims has been publishing false information about the Danish preacher.
The lawsuit states the belief that Søndergaard’s arrest by a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officer was based on “anonymous tips” that “originated from (the) Defendant’s misinformation.”
Søndergaard was arrested on June 30 in Orlando, Florida for “gun smuggling,” even though he was never charged with that crime and vehemently denies any such activity.
Later, an ICE spokesman told CBN News that Søndergaard was arrested for overstaying his visa.
Søndergaard has been held in a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) jail, the Baker County Facility, in MacClenny, Florida, since the arrest.
He and his family fled Denmark in 2019, fearing persecution and arrest following a harassment campaign by the government and media.
They left for the U.S. with only what they could carry in eight suitcases.
A spokesman for Søndergaard’s legal team told CBN News that during his three hours of testimony at the asylum hearing on December 13, Torben was able to share the words of Jesus and how he has seen people healed and delivered.
Søndergaard also read scripture as part of his defense to show how he was following Christ’s commands, making the Bible part of the case record.
“Torben detailed his life in ministry. He gave specific examples of sharing the Gospel and how the power of God has manifested throughout his time in ministry,” a spokesman for his legal team said. “The beauty of it was that in the course of explaining and teaching the court about what it means to walk out one’s faith as a Christian, Torben was able to share scripture.”
Søndergaard is the founder of The Last Reformation, a worldwide movement that seeks to return Christianity to the Book of Acts. He also began the Jesus Center in Denmark, which trained disciples from 30 nations to spread this gospel message around the world.
Attacks against his ministry in Denmark began in 2016 when the Jesus Center was investigated by six different Danish government agencies for everything from food safety to unpaid taxes. Officials found nothing wrong. The government then investigated the Søndergaard family when they began homeschooling.
Danish TV infiltrated his ministry with undercover reporters for a documentary titled God’s Best Children, which lumped Søndergaard in with other leaders of so-called “radical Christian” ministries who had had serious moral or ethical failures or even criminal activity.
He told CBN News the documentary ruined his reputation in Denmark.
Upon Søndergaard’s arrival in the U.S. in 2019, he immediately applied for asylum and set up his residence in California while he grew his ministry.
Søndergaard’s legal spokesman told CBN News, “Torben’s asylum case is very strong, the judge ignored the facts of the case, and Torben will not be deported anytime soon.”
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