Turkish lawyer files appeal for US pastor Andrew Brunson's release

Turkish lawyer files appeal for US pastor Andrew Brunson's release
Lawyer Cem Halavurt filed an appeal to Turkey's top court seeking Andrew Brunson's release and charging his right to freedom has been violated.
2 min read
03 October, 2018
Brunson's lawyer after a trial in Aliaga, north of Izmir [Getty]
A Turkish lawyer representing US pastor Andrew Brunson filed an appeal on Wednesday to release him from house arrest.

The detention of the evangelical Andrew Brunson, who runs a church in Izmir, has become a major source of friction between the two NATO allies.

Washington has imposed sanctions and steep tariffs against Turkey to apply pressure to secure Brunson's release.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly rejected claims that he - or any other politician - can decide Brunson's fate, noting it was a decision for the country’s courts.

Wednesday's filing by lawyer Cem Halavurt to Turkey's constitutional court - the highest court in the country - charged that Brunson's right to freedom had been violated, Reuters reported.

The State Department spokeswoman said the US would maintain close contact with Ankara as it monitors the outcome of Brunson's trial.

"We certainly would like Pastor Brunson home right away. It’s long overdue," Heather Nauert said.

The Turkish authorities detained Brunson on allegations of links to Kurdish militants and supporters of Fethullah Gulen, the cleric Ankara blames for a failed coup attempt in 2016.

Both Brunson and Gulen have denied the accusations.

Jailed or held under house arrest since October 2016, Brunson faces up to 35 years in jail if convicted. In August, the main prosecutor in his trial was replaced, a move which his lawyer cautiously welcomed, saying it might be a sign of changing political will.

Brunson's next appearance in court will be on 12 October, where a judge could rule for his release. 

Both US President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have made securing Brunson a priority, as evangelicals - who are following the case - are pivotal voters for Republicans. 

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