An American priest will spend his second Christmas in prison “on manufactured charges”, the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) said.
“This past October, a delegation from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom visited Pastor (Andrew) Brunson,” the U.S. think-tank said.
“Brunson, who has lost considerable weight from the stress of constant confinement, had a clear message to the delegation: do not forget me.”
Brunson – who had lived and preached in the western Turkish city of İzmir for 23 years – was originally arrested on charges of belonging to an Islamic sect, the Fethullah Gülen movement, which the Turkish government accuses of masterminding last year’s failed military coup attempt.
Later, he was also charged with espionage and attempting to overthrow the Turkish government.
“A Senate panel has moved to give the administration that power by authorizing the State Department to sanction specific Turkish officials responsible for the unjust imprisonment of American citizens,” the FDD said.
“Secretary of State Rex Tillerson should make it clear to Ankara that it must release Brunson or the U.S. will start issuing designations.”