US pastor appeals to top Turkish court to end arrest

By Muhammed Enes Can and Basak Akbulut Yazar

ISTANBUL (AA) – Lawyers for an American pastor charged with links to terrorism on Wednesday petitioned Turkey's highest court for his release, according to judicial sources.

Ismail Cem Halavurt, the lawyer for pastor Andrew Brunson, applied to Turkey’s Constitutional Court after being rejected by high criminal courts in the Aegean Izmir province, said the source, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

On July 25, citing Brunson's health problems, an Izmir court ordered him moved from jail to house arrest.

Shortly after, Halavurt appealed to the 2nd High Criminal Court in Izmir for Brunson's release from house arrest and ban on leaving the country, and later to the 3rd High Criminal Court — higher than the former — when this was rejected.

Brunson's charges include spying for the PKK — listed as a terrorist group by both the U.S. and Turkey — and the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind the defeated coup attempt in Turkey of July 2016.

Turkey and the U.S. have faced rocky relations following Washington’s imposition of sanctions over Brunson's detention.

Political tensions between the two countries sparked worries in the markets after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to use economic pressure to secure Brunson's release.

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