Jul 18 2018

Turkey could free U.S. pastor, his lawyer says

Turkey could free Andrew Brunson, an American Protestant pastor jailed in Turkey for nearly two years, at a hearing due on Wednesday, Reuters quoted his lawyer by as saying.

Turkey’s imprisonment of Brunson has been a major source of tension with the United States. He was detained in the wake of a failed coup attempt in 2016 on charges of being a member of an Islamic sect, the Gülen movement, which the Turkish government says masterminded the attempt, and of sympathies for Kurdish militants.

“We have been saying that he must be released under the law since day one,” lawyer İsmail Cem Halavurt said. “We expect him to be released following the completion of the evidence collection.”

Last month, the U.S. Senate approved a bill postponing the sale of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey due to Brunson’s detention and Turkey buying Russian air defence systems.

Brunson had lived in Turkey for over 20 years as the pastor of a church in the Aegean city of Izmir before his detention.