Ismail Cem Halavurt, lawyer of the jailed pastor Andrew Brunson who is being tried in Turkey on terrorism and spying charges could be freed on Wednesday, July 18 after prosecution witnesses finish testifying, he said.
The case of the Christian pastor from North Carolina who has lived in Turkey for over twenty years and was indicted on charges of helping the group that Ankara blames for the failed 2016 coup against President Tayyip Erdogan, as well as supporting outlawed (also in Turkey) PKK Kurdish militants has worsened the U.S. – Turkey ties and has drawn international attention.
Moreover, it has been used by Ankara as a case through which they could exert diplomatic influence and pressure on the States for the extradition of the Gülen movement head, Fethullah Gülen, that Turkey accuses of orchestrating the failed 2016 July coup in the country with the aim to overturn the government.
Brunson was detained nearly two years ago and faces up to 35 years in prison if found guilty. He has denied the charges, calling them “shameful and disgusting”.
His lawyer reiterated that “We have been saying that he must be released under the law since day one. We expect him to be released following the completion of the evidence collection”.
As for the American side, Reuters reads that “President Donald Trump has called for his release and the U.S. Senate passed a bill last month including a measure that prohibits Turkey from buying F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets because of Brunson’s imprisonment and Turkey’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 air defence system.”
The current developments have deepened the rift between Washington and Ankara, at the same time intensifying the American pressure on Turkey related to the purchase of the U.S.-made defence system by Ankara…. / IBNA
Main Photo (File): Pastor Andrew Brunson’s lawyer, Ismail Cem Halavurt speaks to the press