A tearful sister only wants one thing for Christmas this year – her brother home from his prison hell in India.
Nick Dunn is one of six Britons being held in Palayamkottai prison in Chennai by Indian authorities.
The 27-year-old, from Ashington, was working for AdvanFort, a maritime security company whose headquarters are in America, helping to protect vessels from pirates.
But on October 12, the six – all former British Army soldiers – were part of the 35-man crew onboard the MV Seaman Guard Ohio which was called into port Tuticorin in the southern Tamil Nadu state and accused of illegally possessing weapons.
And six days later they were arrested and have been held in jail ever since.
Now Nick’s sister Lisa is pleading for help from the Government and Foreign Office to get the six released.
Lisa, 34, said the last time she spoke to her brother was on October 18 when he rang in the early hours to say the situation was not getting resolved and he was being arrested.
“He had phoned a couple of times on October 17 to say they had been detained and it was all routine as they were just checking the documentation and there was nothing to worry about,” she said.
“But then he phoned at 2.40am the next day to say it wasn’t going to be sorted and they were being arrested.”
The family have been told by the Foreign Office that officials have seen him, and passed on messages, but that it will be another three months before they see the six again.
Lisa said: “I’m still really hopeful we can have him back for Christmas, I have to believe this is going to happen.
“My parents are trying to come to terms with the fact he might not be home but I still have to believe. We’ve been told to prepare ourselves but how can we do that?”
Lisa added the family were grateful of the support they were receiving from AdvanFort, who were in constant contact, and Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery.
There has also been support from the Mission to Seafarers charity, which Lisa said had been very helpful.
And all the families involved are supporting each other throughout the ordeal.
Lisa said: “The support we’ve had from family and friends has been unbelievable, they’ve been amazing, but to get support from people who know what we are going through is important to us.”
An online petition has been created by the girlfriend of one of the other captives, calling on the Government to help get the men released, and has more than 25,000 signatures.
Lisa added: “Nick and the other men fought for their country, and yet it seems their own Government won’t fight for them. It seems like they’ve just been left there.
“It’s really overwhelming that people have been signing this petition. We’ll be going down to London soon to hand the petition over at the House of Commons.”
A spokesman for AdvanFort said: “ AdvanFort continues to urgently pursue every possible measure to liberate the security contractors and crew under its employ from captivity, including through all available political, economic and judicial channels.
“We recently hired a top-flight new lawyer in the UK who has extensive experience in maritime and admiralty law, who will oversee the best legal representation in India.
“They are currently developing a comprehensive legal strategy which has the best chance of success in court, and we are cautiously optimistic about the days and weeks ahead.
“We maintain that the men were acting legally, professionally and in good faith.”
He added: “Indian authorities recently permitted AdvanFort’s representative in India to deliver limited hygienic, monetary and comfort provisions such as sweets, fruits and current reading material.
“He found the captives in good spirits given the conditions in which they are being held by Indian law enforcement. He is consistently working on returning to the jail to meet with the lads as often as Indian guards will permit him.”
To sign the petition visit www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/william-hague-help-free-the-6-british-ex-soldiers-from-indian-prison