Lawyer appeals to Turkish court to end pastor Brunson’s house arrest, travel ban

American Pastor Andrew Brunson.

İsmail Cem Halavurt, the lawyer for American pastor Andrew Brunson, who was transferred from pretrial detention to house arrest last week, has appealed the decision, demanding the pastor be fully freed, the Hürriyet daily reported.

The İzmir 2nd High Criminal Court on July 25 ruled to move Brunson from pretrial detention, in which he has been held since October 2016, to house arrest in İzmir but barred him from leaving the premises or the country. The same court last week had ruled to keep Brunson, who faces 35 years in prison on espionage and terrorism charges, setting the next hearing for Oct. 12.

Brunson’s lawyer said in his petition that “the pastor cannot totally make use of his freedom and return to his daily life,” underlining that he cannot exercise his freedom of belief nor carry out his religious duties.

Halavurt asked the court to order judicial probation instead of house arrest and remove the travel ban imposed on Brunson.

The İzmir court’s ruling has deepened a diplomatic crisis between Washington and Ankara, with both US President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence threatening Turkey with “large sanctions” until Brunson is fully released.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday defied Washington’s threat, saying Turkey would not retreat in the face of pressure and comparing the situation to US-imposed sanctions on Iran.

Hours after Erdoğan’s statement US Vice President Pence reiterated a threat to Ankara that Washington would impose sanctions on Turkey if Brunson is not freed.

The court’s most recent decision came days after six US senators introduced bipartisan legislation to restrict loans from international financial institutions to Turkey “until the Turkish government ends the unjust detention of US citizens.”

According to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations statement, the bill, known as the Turkey International Financial Institutions Act, directs the US executive of the World Bank and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to oppose future loans, except for humanitarian purposes, to Turkey. (turkishminute.com)

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