So apparently there are a dozen American citizens being held hostage by the Turkey government and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. They are, seemingly, facing long prison sentences as the Turkey government believes they were part of a failed coup to overthrow the government last year.
Among them are a NASA scientist, a Christian millionaire (who has lived in the country for 23 years), and two brothers one being a real estate agent and the other a chemistry professor.
As reported by for NY Times:
Mr. Erdogan’s crackdown since then has swept up tens of thousands of Turks — military officials, police officers, judges, journalists and others — in prosecutions and purges that are wrenching Turkey back to darker eras it had appeared to have left behind.
And amid deteriorating relations with the United States and Europe, Turkey is also arresting increasing numbers of foreign nationals. Most, including the Americans, are accused of ties to the Islamist cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Turkey says orchestrated the conspiracy from his self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania.
American officials have pressed the Turkish government on certain cases, including through personal appeals by President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to Mr. Erdogan and a letter signed by 78 members of Congress.
Mr. Erdogan himself seemed to confirm the suspicion last month, when he told a gathering of police officers in Ankara that he would hand over an American pastor, Andrew Brunson, once the United States gave him Mr. Gulen.
“They say, ‘Give us this certain pastor,’” he said, recounting his meeting with American officials. “You have another pastor in your hands; give him to us,” he railed.
If Mr. Gulen were handed over, the president said, he would sort out Mr. Brunson’s judicial case. “Give him to us and we will put yours through the judiciary; we will give him to you,” Mr. Erdogan said.
More than 50,000 Turks have been imprisoned and 150,000 more have been suspended from their jobs since the attempted coup in July 2016, which killed 249 people. The crackdown has stretched far beyond the immediate culprits and has swept up people with vague links to the Gulen movement.
The Americans are among them. For the families of the detainees, the drama has shifted from the surreal to deep dread.
Serkan Golge, 37, the NASA scientist of Turkish decent, was arrested in the first frenzy of suspicion and police activity after the coup attempt as he was vacationing in the sleepy southern town of Hatay.
Tipped off by a relative, the police arrested Mr. Golge outside his parent’s house as the family was leaving for the airport to return home to Houston.