Conservative watchdog group says Tennessee pastor jailed in India

Source: WTVF/American Center for Law and Justice

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- A Middle Tennessee pastor was arrested while traveling in India, according to his law team.

CBS affiliate WTVF reported that Shelbyville-based pastor Bryan Nerren was traveling in India for a conference in early October when he was arrested.

According to Nerren's representatives, the conservative and Christian group American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), the pastor was stopped in New Delhi due to the amount of money he was carrying. ACLJ said he was traveling with the money to cover for the two conferences and the money needed for the 13 ministers during their two-week long trip.

Nerren was eventually cleared by the agent after an hour of questioning and allowed to fly to Bagdogra, India, ACLJ said.

When he landed in Bagdogra, ACLJ said Nerren was arrested by customs for violating the Foreign Exchange Management Act. His representatives said it is not illegal to posses the money or travel with it, but the necessary document to account for the funds wasn't given.

The ACLJ said Nerren was never told by New Delhi officials about any needed forms.

Nerren was transported to Siliguri, India where he was jailed and not allowed visitors, the ACLJ said. His representatives said he was hospitalized due to health conditions during his six-day jail stay.

When he was released on bail, the ACLJ said Nerren's passport was held and a travel ban was placed on him. His hearing, set for October 22, was rescheduled for December 12.

The ACLJ said Nerren's arrest "was due to his Christian faith" and that officials asked about his faith and if the money was for a faith-based cause. The ACLJ reported it was in contact with the State Department on the issue.

WVLT News reached out to the State Department for comment. A spokesperson said, "We are aware of the arrest of a U.S. citizen in India in Consulate Kolkata’s Consular district. We take seriously our responsibility to assist U.S. citizens abroad, and are monitoring the situation."

The spokesperson said privacy concerns prevented release of any further information.

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