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Lawyer appeals to court to free Brunson, recalls economic crisis

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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.”

The appeal 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.

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 Donald 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.

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