Turkey post-coup crackdown also targets US Protestants

Dominique Bonessi | Religion News Service

ISTANBUL (RNS) After a weeklong business trip abroad, American pastor Ryan Keating was detained at the airport overnight, interrogated and then put on a plane back to London.

“They locked me in a room — they called (it) the guest house — with 15 to 20 other people. Some were suspected of being terrorists and ISIS members,” Keating said, recalling the night of Oct. 8.

The following morning, he was forced to sign a statement acknowledging that he was being banned for life from a country where he had spent much of the last 23 years and where his wife and children were still living.

“I was deemed a threat to national security,” he added. “That has become a blanket label used to deport anyone they don’t want without any evidence or investigation.”

Keating’s airport lockup happened a day after another pastor, Andrew Brunson, was detained along with his wife in the coastal town of Izmir, where he had lived for 20 years.