A Turkish flag was put on the balcony of American pastor Andrew Brunson, who is under house arrest after being kept in pre-trial detention in an İzmir prison for almost two years on terrorism and espionage charges, the Cumhuriyet daily reported.
According to the report, the flag appeared on the balcony of Brunson’s house in İzmir’s Alsancak district, while police continue to enforce security measures outside in the street. A Turkish flag also appeared on Brunson’s church in Konak on Aug. 5.
A Turkish court on July 25 released Brunson, who faces 35 years, from pretrial detention, putting him under house arrest due to “health problems.” The court ordered him to wear an electronic bracelet at all times and barred him from traveling outside of the country. His next trial hearing is scheduled for Oct. 12.
Prosecutors accuse Brunson of activities on behalf of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as well as the Gülen movement, which is accused by the Turkish government of orchestrating a failed coup in 2016, an accusation strongly denied by the movement.
The relations between Turkey and the US became even more strained following the local court’s decision to put Brunson under house arrest. US President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence threatened to impose “large sanctions” on Turkey if Brunson were not freed.
İsmail Rüştü Cirit, head of the top appeals court in Turkey, on Monday said it is the independent Turkish courts alone that will make a decision in the case of Brunson.
Turkey’s judiciary is being severely criticized for acting on orders from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and not basing their rulings on the law. Judges in Turkey who make decisions that anger Erdoğan are either replaced or jailed.
Erdoğan in September had called on Washington to swap Brunson for Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish Muslim cleric living in self-imposed exile in the US who Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) government accuse of orchestrating the failed coup in 2016.