Pastor Brunson’s lawyer appeals to Turkish Constitutional Court

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US Pastor Andrew Craig Brunson (C), is seen inside a car escorted by Turkish plain clothes police officers as he arrives at his house on July 25, 2018 in Izmir. AFP PHOTO

İsmail Cem Halavurt, the lawyer for Andrew Brunson, an American evangelical pastor who is standing trial in Turkey on terrorism-related charges, on Wednesday appealed to the Turkish Constitutional Court to vacate a decision by the İzmir 3rd High Criminal Court that kept Brunson under house arrest and barred him from leaving the country, the Cumhuriyet daily reported.

Halavurt has submitted a 10-page petition to the Istanbul 1st High Criminal Court, which will convey it to the Constitutional Court. Underlining that there is no evidence that warrants keeping Brunson either in prison or under house arrest, the lawyer asked the Constitutional Court handle their appeal as soon as possible and rule to end the house arrest of his client.

Appeals by Halavurt were rejected by the İzmir 2nd High Criminal Court and the İzmir 3rd High Criminal Court in August.

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 terrorist 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 into house arrest on July 25. The court ordered him to wear an electronic bracelet at all times and barred him from traveling outside the country.

The relations between Turkey and the US became even more strained following the local court’s decision to put Brunson under house arrest.

The US slapped sanctions on two Turkish government ministers in early August, and Turkey responded by sanctioning two US Cabinet secretaries.

When Trump doubled tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Turkey, Erdoğan retaliated with tariffs on alcohol, cars and tobacco and the threat of a boycott on American electronics.

The spat has deepened troubles for the already struggling Turkish economy, and helped drive a more than 40 percent decline in the lira this year.

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