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VP Pence warns Turkey: Don’t test Trump’s resolve on return of pastor Brunson

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US Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday tweeted that Turkey should not test US President Donald Trump’s resolve to see the return to the United States of Americans wrongfully imprisoned in foreign countries.

Following the rejection of an appeal by a Turkish court on Wednesday for the release of American pastor Andrew Brunson from house arrest during his trial on terrorism charges, Pence stated on his official Twitter account that “Pastor Andrew Brunson is an innocent man held in Turkey & justice demands that he be released. Turkey would do well not to test @POTUS Trump’s resolve to see Americans who are wrongfully imprisoned in foreign lands returned home to the United States.”

@POTUS and I continue to stand firm until Pastor Brunson is released and returned to his family, friends, and church in the USA. Every American should continue to pray for Pastor Andrew Brunson & his wife Noreen until this godly man of faith is home,” he added

Brunson’s lawyer, İsmail Cem Halavurt, filed the request for Brunson’s release on Tuesday, around a week after his previous appeal was rejected by the same court. The 2nd Penal Court in İzmir then sent the defendant’s petition to a higher court for review.

It usually takes a court between three and seven days to process an appeal, but a ruling could come sooner in this case, Brunson’s lawyer told Reuters. “A ruling can come tomorrow, or even tonight. These are appeals that require fast decision making because they are related to an individual’s freedom,” he said. A previous appeal by Halavurt on behalf of Brunson was rejected by the court.

Brunson, who has been living in Turkey for more than two decades, has been accused of helping alleged members of the Gülen movement. He has also been charged with supporting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The continued detention of Brunson has become a lightning rod in strained relations between Turkey and the US, leading Washington to slap economic and political sanctions on its NATO ally.

Brunson was released for house arrest on July 25. The court ordered him to wear an electronic bracelet at all times and barred him from traveling outside of the country. His next hearing as part of the trial is scheduled for Oct. 12.

The United States has warned that more economic pressure may be in store for Turkey if it refuses to release Brunson, a White House official said on Tuesday, in a dispute that has further strained relations between the NATO allies, according to a report by Reuters.

(Stockholm Center for Freedom [SCF] with Turkish Minute)

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