US pastor in Turkey appeals for release after key Washington meeting
Brunson, who has been living in Turkey for more than two decades, is accused of helping supporters of U.S.-based Fethullah Gülen, who Turkish authorities say masterminded the 2016 coup attempt in which 250 people were killed. The pastor is also charged with supporting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson, whose detention has caused one of deepest rows ever between Turkey and the U.S., has renewed his appeal to a Turkish court to release him from house arrest and lift his travel ban, in a development that comes a day after Turkish Ambassador to Washington Serdar Kılıç had a meeting with National Security Advisor John Bolton.
Brunson’s lawyer, İsmail Cem Halavurt, filed the demand on Aug. 14 around a week after his previous appeal was rejected by the Turkish court in the western province of İzmir.
The continued detention of Brunson has become a lightning rod in strained relations between Turkey and the U.S., leading the U.S. to slap economic and political sanctions on its NATO ally Turkey.
U.S. President Donald Trump and his Vice President Mike Pence had threatened Turkey with more sanctions if Brunson was not released and sent back home.
The recent situation in ties and the Brunson affair were discussed in Washington between Kılıç and Bolton. Although the White House said the meeting took place upon Kılıç’s will, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu stressed that it was arranged by the White House.
“The meeting was scheduled by the White House. Contacts between our ambassador and the White House naturally continue,” he said at a press conference with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Aug. 14.
“There are those who want to resolve this Brunson issue while some others want to prolong it until the November [mid-term] elections in the U.S.,” the minister stated, while complaining about confusion and miscommunication in the Trump administration.
“What our ambassador has told Bolton is clear: There are issues we have been discussing. We have drafted road maps and action plans with regard to these issues. We have updated them once again,” he said.
Kılıç reiterated that threats and sanctions will not help and will only worsen ties between the two countries, Çavuşoğlu noted, saying “relations with Turkey can be improved if the U.S. abandons the language of sanctions and threats.”
The minister said there was no change in the conditions of Brunson, who continues to receive consular access from U.S. diplomatic missions.