As American Pastor Andrew Brunson marks a full year in prison in Turkey for his Christian faith, an American law firm is declaring that he has become a "hostage" following the latest developments from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
"He has now spent one year apart from his family. He's spent one year in a Turkish prison for his Christian faith. He has spent one year wondering each day if he will ever be free to return to America. He has spent one year enduring unthinkable persecution for his Christian faith," American Center for Law and Justice Executive Director Jordan Sekulow wrote on Saturday, referring to Brunson.
"Even worse, after one year of false imprisonment for his faith, Pastor Andrew is now a hostage of the Turkish government — a pawn in the hands of Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan."
In September, Erdogan said that Brunson, who is being accused by Turkey of espionage and charges related to terrorism, could be released if the U.S. hands over Fethullah Gülen, and Islamic imam whom Erdogan blames for last year's attempted coup in the country.
"'Give us the pastor back,' they say. You have one pastor as well. Give him (Gulen) to us," Erdogan said at the time. "Then we will try him (Brunson) and give him to you."