U.S. pastor in Turkey appeals for release, end to travel ban – lawyer

ISTANBUL – A U.S. 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 Washington and Ankara have spiralled into crisis over the trial of Andrew Brunson, who is accused of backing a coup attempt against President Tayyip Erdogan two years ago.

Brunson, who denies the charges, was held for 21 months in a Turkish prison until his transfer to house arrest last month – a move the Trump administration deemed inadequate.

The appeal document seen by Reuters said the court should prevent any unlawful political interventions and lift judicial control provisions imposed on Brunson. His lawyer Ismail Cem Halavurt, said the court had up to seven days to rule on it.

The row over Brunson’s detention has, along with diverging interests in Syria, frayed already fragile ties between the NATO allies.

Trump doubled tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminium imports last week, contributing to a meltdown in the lira that threatens Turkey’s banking sector and has rattled global markets. Erdogan said Turkey would boycott U.S. electronic products.

U.S. Charge d’affaires in Turkey Jeffrey Hovenier repeated the call for the government to resolve Brunson’s case, and those of other detained Americans, swiftly and transparently.

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

Brunson faces up to 35 years in jail if found guilty. His next trial hearing is scheduled for Oct. 12.

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