Lawyer appeals to Turkish court to free Brunson, recalls economic crisis

American Pastor Andrew Brunson.

İsmail Cem Halavurt, the lawyer for American pastor Andrew Brunson, who was transferred from pretrial detention to house arrest last month, on Tuesday appealed the decision again, underlining that the case has cost Turkey greatly due to tension with the US, Cumhuriyet 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 had ruled just a week before to keep Brunson, who faces 35 years in prison on espionage and terrorism charges, in pretrial detention, setting the next hearing for Oct. 12.

Underlining that “Brunson’s freedom cannot be limited by an indictment based on the false testimony of lying witnesses,” Halavurt said: “If the judiciary is independent as our Mr. President [Recep Tayyip Erdoğan] and other ministers have said, your court must rule in accordance with the law without waiting for the results of negotiations between delegations of the two countries.”

“The case has become a basic problem in our country’s bilateral relations with the US. Our country has lost much due to this case,” the lawyer added, asking the court to order judicial probation instead of house arrest and to remove the travel ban imposed on Brunson.

“Andrew Brunson is innocent, and he will most certainly be acquitted.”

Meanwhile, the US Embassy chargé d’affaires, Jeffrey Hovenier, visited Brunson in western Izmir province on Tuesday. Hovenier’s visit reportedly lasted for almost an hour.

After the visit, Hovenier told the press that the US had reiterated its position to Turkish officials on the Brunson case and other US citizens under arrest; the US government wants these trials to end without any delay in a fair and clear way, he added.

“We continue our call on Turkish authorities that with regard to this case as well as the case of the other unjustly detained Americans, and the Turkish national employees of the U.S. diplomatic mission, that their cases be resolved without delay and in a fair and transparent manner, that’s what my government is requesting,” said Hovenier in a statement he relased on the social media account of US Embassy in Ankara later on Tuesday.

Earlier this week, a Turkish delegation returned from Washington with no movement on the detention of Brunson.

The visit came a day after President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton warned Turkey’s ambassador to the US, Serdar Kılıç, on Monday that the US has nothing further to negotiate until the detained American pastor is freed, Bloomberg reported.

German FM: Release of Brunson would pave the way to economic solutions

German Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas has said Turkey should release pastor Brunson, who is currently under house arrest, and German citizens who are under arrest in Turkey on political charges to fix the economy, Deutsche Welle (DW) reported.

Maas elaborated at a press conference on Monday on German worries concerning the fall of the Turkish lira against the dollar since Turkey is an important country for the EU economy. Politically correct decisions would open the gates to a solution for the Turkish economy, he argued.

“We have similar cases [to that of Brunson]. So it would be desirable if the Turkish government were to seek a solution not just with the US but also with us,” Maas stated.

Germany’s economy minister has criticized additional tariffs imposed on Turkey by the US on Sunday, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday that Germany wants to see economic prosperity in Turkey.

In a column published in the Hürriyet daily on Tuesday, pro-government columnist Abdülkadir Selvi wrote that a report on Brunson’s psychological state would be enough to free him completely, underlining that Turkey has not managed the pastor crisis well.

Halavurt’s first appeal at the end of the July demanding the pastor be freed was rejected by the court.

Turkey has been facing a currency crisis since its relations with the US administration were dramatically strained over the court decision to put Brunson under house arrest after almost two years in pretrial detention rather than release him as demanded by the US administration.

Following the court ruling, US President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence threatened to impose “large sanctions” on Turkey if Brunson were not freed.

After imposing economic sanctions on two Turkish ministers on Aug. 1 for their role in the detention of evangelical pastor Brunson, Trump on Aug. 10 ramped up his sanctions on Turkey by doubling US tariffs on Turkish aluminum and steel imports to 20 percent and 50 percent, respectively. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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