U.S. Pastor Held in Turkey Appeals for Release and Lifting of Travel Ban

The detained pastor, who is accused of aiding a coup against Erdogan in 2016, has triggered a diplomatic crisis between the U.S. and Turkey

Andrew Brunson arrives at his home after being released from the prison in Izmir, Turkey July 25, 2018.
\ STRINGER/ REUTERS

An American Christian pastor standing trial in Turkey on terrorism charges has appealed again to a Turkish court to release him from house arrest and lift his travel ban, his lawyer told Reuters on Tuesday. 

Relations between the two NATO allies have spiraled into a full-blown crisis over the trial of Christian pastor Andrew Brunson, who was held for 21 months in a Turkish prison until his transfer to house arrest last month - a move Washington dismissed as insufficient. 

The appeal document seen by Reuters said the court should halt any unlawful political interventions and lift judicial control provisions imposed on Andrew Brunson. 

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Brunson, who has been living in Turkey for more than two decades, was accused of helping supporters of Fethullah Gulen, the U.S.-based cleric who Turkish authorities say masterminded the 2016 coup attempt against President Tayyip Erdogan

"The court should prevent unlawful political interventions by lifting judicial control provisions on the defendant," the document said. 

Turkish lira plunged on concerns over the deepening rift between Washington and Ankara, hitting a record low of 7.24 against U.S. dollar and weakening some 45 percent so far this year. 

The United States imposed sanctions on two Turkish ministers and doubled customs tariffs on Turkish aluminum and steel imports after Brunson was placed in house arrest. 

Brunson's lawyer, Ismail Cem Halavurt, said the court had up to seven days to decide. Brunson, who faces up to 35 years in jail if found guilty, denies the charges. 

Brunson's next hearing as part of the trial is scheduled for October 12.