Cleric, lawyer visit pastor Brunson under house arrest in Turkey’s west

Cleric, lawyer visit pastor Brunson under house arrest in Turkey’s west

İZMİR

A cleric and a lawyer visited U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson, who is under house arrest in the western Turkish province of İzmir on Sept. 18. 

The two men stayed at the house for almost one hour, triggering speculations on local media.

The U.S. embassy in Ankara on Sept. 19 denied reports that the cleric and the lawyer were “sent by the U.S. consulate.”

“They are not the employees of our consulate,” an embassy spokesperson said, according to Demirören News Agency.

Brunson was kept in jail from October 2016 on terrorism and spying charges until July 25 when a court in İzmir ruled to move him to house arrest, citing health concerns. 

A Christian pastor from North Carolina who has lived in Turkey for more than two decades, he was indicted on charges of having links with the illegal PKK and U.S.-based Fethullah Gülen’s illegal network, referred to as FETÖ by authorities and which Ankara blames for the coup attempt in July 2016.

Facing jail time of 35 years in total, Brunson’s appeals demanding to be released during his trial were rejected by the court. His next hearing as part of the trial is scheduled for Oct. 12.

The U.S. announced sanctions against Turkey's Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül and Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Aug. 1 over the Brunson case, triggering a diplomatic crisis with Ankara.

Turkish prosecutor who indicted Brunson reassigned