Efforts to free an American pastor held in a Turkish prison for his Christian faith have failed.

Andrew Brunson was arrested on Dec. 8 and charged with “membership in an armed terrorist organization.”

A Turkish court on Dec. 29 denied his appeal for release.

Andrew Brunson was elated when Turkey’s Interior Ministry summoned him on Oct. 7 in the coastal city of Izmir. The ministry, the American pastor imagined, was granting him and his wife, Norine, permanent-resident status after they’d spent more than two decades preaching the gospel in Turkey. Instead they were arrested and detained for unspecified reasons.

So began a Turkish nightmare the couple is living to this day.

Turkish immigration authorities informed the Brunsons that they would be detained pending deportation from the country. Norine was released after two weeks, but her husband was held in the immigration-detention facility for another two months, including two days in solitary confinement. He was initially denied access to legal counsel, and two U.S. consular visits didn’t take place until after he’d already spent a month in the facility.