Mel Gibson, the actor and Oscar-winning director, has demanded the release of American Mark Swidan, a devout Catholic who is facing a death row sentence in China.
In a video to US outlet News Nation, Gibson said Swidan has been “wrongfully and unlawfully imprisoned” for over a decade.
"He faces a death sentence, he's a man of great faith, an American patriot, and he refuses during his captivity to renounce either his faith or his country," Gibson continued.
Described by the news outlet as Texan and a devout catholic, Swidan was arrested in 2012 accused of conspiring with a Mexican cartel to make methamphetamine despite a lack of evidence.
He was convicted and given death sentence in 2019 and earlier this month, the Chinese government upheld its decision.
Responding to the sentencing, the US Department of State said: “We are disappointed by this decision and will continue to press for his immediate release and return to the United States. U.S. officials have repeatedly expressed their concerns to senior PRC officials about Mr. Swidan’s treatment, medical care, and his inability to send or receive mail in a timely manner.
“President Biden and Secretary Blinken continue to remain personally focused on the release of Mark Swidan and other U.S. nationals wrongfully detained or held hostage across the world.”
Swidan was arrested along with eleven co-defendants from Canada, China, Mexico and the US.