Oct 11 2018

Turkey could free U.S. pastor on Friday, but may impose a travel ban

Two scenarios have been discussed in Ankara about the release of American pastor Andrew Brunson who has been detained in Turkey for almost two years over terror charges and is at the centre of a diplomatic crisis between Turkey and the United States, Cumhuriyet newspaper reported.

Brunson’s lawyer Cem Halavurt told Deutsche Welle that he expected Brunson to be released at his next hearing on Friday. He also said there were too many parameters affecting the fate of Brunson’s legal process.

The United States in August imposed sanctions on two Turkish ministers and doubled tariffs on Turkish metals after a Turkish court moved Brunson from prison to house arrest, while the U.S. government was hoping for his release.

U.S. sanctions on Turkey hit the country’s already crumbling economy, with the Turkish lira hitting record lows in Aug. 10. The lira has dropped by 40 percent against the dollar since the beginning of the year.

As Brunson’s hearing is approaching, markets are fully focused on the outcome and are expecting his release, Hürriyet newspaper columnist Erdal Sağlam said on Thursday. 

Sources in the banking sector expect a sharp decline in the lira, if the court rejects Brunson’s release on Friday, said Sağlam, adding that the Turkish lira may rise to 5.85 against the dollar in case of a verdict in favour of Brunson. 

Brunson may be released without an international travel ban, according to one of the scenarios discussed in Ankara, Cumhuriyet said. This would allow Brunson to return to his homeland, although his trial would continue in Turkey and it would smooth relations between Turkey and the United States, Cumhuriyet said.

A second scenario would see Brunson released with an international travel ban. Such an outcome would not satisfy the U.S. government, which wants Brunson to return to the United States as soon as possible, Cumhuriyet said.