CHP MP says Turkey under US’ control after pastor Brunson’s house arrest ruling
The Turkish judiciary has once again made a politically motivated decision by moving U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson from jail to house arrest, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy group leader Engin Özkoç has said.
“Turkey is now a country under the command of the U.S. and allied countries,” Özkoç said at a press conference in parliament on July 26.
His comments came after a Turkish court ruled that Brunson should be transferred from prison to house arrest after almost two years in a prison in the Aegean province of İzmir on July 26.
The pastor was detained on Oct. 7, 2016 and charged with alleged links to terrorist groups. The arrest had become a major point of tension in Turkey-U.S. relations, with the U.S. authorities mounting demands for his release.
Özkoç claimed the decision was a politically motivated one made under the influence of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a bid to ease ailing relations with the U.S.
“A president who said ‘yes sir,’ just because the U.S. president asked, has released this person [Brunson]. He [the U.S. president] said ‘you cannot keep the individual whom I’ve sent there as a missionary,” the CHP official said.
“I am ashamed. I cannot find words. The president of Turkey, who said ‘give the pastor, take the pastor,’ has handed over the pastor to the U.S.,” he said, referring to Erdoğan’s statement in September 2017 when he told the U.S. to extradite a preacher whom Turkey blames for the 2016 coup attempt in return for Brunson’s release.
Turkey has long been asking the U.S. to extradite the Pennsylvania-based Fethullah Gülen, who is believed to have masterminded the July 15, 2016 coup attempt that left at least 250 people killed.
“We have given you all the documents necessary [for the extradition of Gülen]. But they say, ‘give us the pastor.’ You have another pastor in your hands. Give us that pastor and we will do what we can in the judiciary to give you this one,” Erdoğan had said on Sept. 28, 2017.
Criticizing the ruling to release Brunson from jail, Özkoç said “Is the FETÖ leader [Gülen] under house arrest? Does he have an electronic bracelet? He travels freely there,” he said.
He then criticized the judiciary for not releasing jailed CHP lawmaker Enis Berberoğlu, who was imprisoned last year on espionage charges, despite being re-elected as an MP in June, thus being granted immunity from prosecution.
“The grounds for the release written in the file of the pastor who was released yesterday is the same grounds for Berberoğlu’s release. Berberoğlu was elected as a lawmaker; he re-gained his immunity. He is innocent, but there is no demand from the U.S. president or a request from [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel or an instruction from [French President Emmanuel] Macron,” he said.
“Don’t be surprised if the pastor returns to his country soon, but Berberoğlu, who is innocent, gets sentenced because there’s an understanding that wants to keep him in prison,” he added.