U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson asked Turkish authorities to release him from house arrest and lift his travel ban to restore his freedom and normal life.
Brunson’s lawyer, Ismail Cem Halavurt, said Monday that he filed the appeal, arguing that although Brunson had been released from prison, house arrest deprived him of freedom and a normal life and prevented him from carrying out his responsibilities as a pastor. Halavurt said that the Turkish court in the city of Izmir would take three to seven days to reach a decision concerning the appeal, according to Reuters.
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence announced on July 26 that the U.S. would impose “significant sanctions” on Turkey unless Turkish authorities free Brunson and allow him to come home. (RELATED: Pence Warns Turkey, U.S. Will Impose Sanctions Unless Pastor Brunson Is Released)
“If Turkey does not take immediate action to free this innocent man of faith and sending home to America, the United States will impose significant sanctions on Turkey until pastor Andrew Brunson is free,” Pence said during his address at the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom.
Trump reiterated the warning on Twitter the same day.
The United States will impose large sanctions on Turkey for their long time detainment of Pastor Andrew Brunson, a great Christian, family man and wonderful human being. He is suffering greatly. This innocent man of faith should be released immediately!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2018
Turkish authorities arrested Brunson in October 2016, without any formal charges, in the wake of the failed July coup. They later charged him with espionage and accused him of membership in and aiding of armed Islamic terrorist groups, and imprisoned him for nearly two years. The court indicted Brunson based in part on the testimonies of three secret witnesses and dubious allegations. His continued imprisonment, along with statements from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, indicate Erdoğan has been using Brunson as leverage to pressure the U.S. to extradite an Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, who he blames for the attempted coup.
The U.S. has refused to extradite the clerics on the basis that no sufficient evidence exists that indicates that he had a direct hand in the coup.
Brunson has maintained his innocence and denounced the allegations against him, as have his supporters.
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