US pastor's lawyer to lodge appeal at top Turkey court

US pastor's lawyer to lodge appeal at top Turkey court
Cem Halavurt, who is representing detained American pastor Andrew Brunson, told AFP they would lodge the appeal in Ankara at 0700 GMT on Wednesday.

3 min read
02 October, 2018
Brunson has been detained in Turkey since 2016 [Getty]

A lawyer for the US pastor whose detention in Turkey sparked a crisis with Washington will appeal to the constitutional court for his release on Wednesday.

The move comes ahead of an October 12 hearing in the Andrew Brunson case and amid growing expectations he will be allowed to return home.

Since July, Brunson has been under house arrest at his home in the western city of Izmir. Previously, he had been held in jail after being detained in October 2016.

His lawyer, Cem Halavurt, told AFP they would lodge the appeal in Ankara at 0700 GMT on Wednesday.

Brunson, an evangelical who runs a small evangelical Protestant church in Izmir, is the centre of a bitter standoff between the Turkey and the United States.

Washington imposed sanctions on Turkey over the summer and Ankara imposed sanctions of its own, leading to an escalation that prompted a crash in value of the Turkish lira.

The Turkish authorities detained Brunson on allegations of assisting groups branded as terrorist, part of a crackdown by the Turkish government following the failed coup in 2016.

But there have been signs the standoff could be easing.

Last month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed his hope Turkey would release the pastor. 

But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the Turkish court will decide whether the American pastor will be released, noting it was not a decision for him to make.

"This is a judiciary matter. Brunson has been detained on terrorism charges... On 12 October there will be another hearing and we don't know what the court will decide and politicians will have no say on the verdict," Erdogan said.

"As the president, I don’t have the right to order his release. Our judiciary is independent. Let’s wait and see what the court will decide," Erdogan added during the United Nations General Assembly meetings in New York.

Erdogan also sharply criticised the use of economic sanctions "as weapons" in his address to the United Nations, in an implicit swipe at the United States.

"None of us can remain silent to the arbitrary cancellation of commercial agreements, the spreading prevalence of protectionism and the use of economic sanctions as weapons," Erdogan told the UN General Assembly.

"Nobody wants the world to experience a new economic rupture," said Erdogan.

He did not accuse the United States directly but pointed to "countries that are persistently trying to create chaos."

"It is very easy to create chaos but it's difficult to re-establish order, and today some countries are persistently trying to create chaos."

Agencies contributed to this report.

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