U.S. pastor Brunson appeals to Turkey's highest court for freedom
An American pastor at the center of an ongoing diplomatic row between Washington and Ankara has petitioned Turkey's Constitutional Court on Wednesday for his release from house arrest, CBS news reported.
Fifty-year-old, who was arrested in the aftermath of Turkey’s July 2016 on espionage and terror related charges, was jailed for two years before being released on house arrest on July 25.
Brunson denies the charges, which could land him in jail for up to 35 years.
Brunson’s lawyer Ismail Cem Halavurt has filed a Constitutional Court appeal following a lower courts' refusal to free the pastor who has been living in Turkey for over three decades and to lift a travel ban against him.
U.S President Donald Trump has voiced repeatedly his demand for Brunson's release. Turkey’s refusal has led to the U.S. president to double tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum imports, flaring the country's currency crisis. The Turkish lira has lost 40 percent value since the beginning of the year.
A total disgrace that Turkey will not release a respected U.S. Pastor, Andrew Brunson, from prison. He has been held hostage far too long. @RT_Erdogan should do something to free this wonderful Christian husband & father. He has done nothing wrong, and his family needs him!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 19, 2018
"There is no reasonable or acceptable legal reason for his freedom to be limited in such a way," Halavurt is quoted as saying in the petition. "There is no possibility for the defendant destroying evidence."
Brunson's next court hearing is scheduled for Oct. 12 near the city of Izmir, where Brunson led the Resurrection Church.
Brunson stands accused of supporting both the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group at war in Turkey for over 30 years and the Gülen movement, which Ankara blames for the failed coup attempt and designates a terrorist organisation.