Pastor Andrew Brunson, the American foreign missionary who has been imprisoned for nearly two years in Turkey, has appealed to the nation’s highest court.
Brunson, who is currently in the middle of his trial, was detained in December 2016 on charges of terrorism and attempting to overthrow the government. Despite continued pressure from the United States government, Brunson has remained under house arrest. Now, his lawyers are going to the high court in a bid to get the veteran pastor home.
“There is no reasonable or acceptable legal reason for his freedom to be limited in such a way,” Brunson’s attorney Ismail Cem Halavurt argued in a petition to the Constitutional Court, as reported by CBS News. “There is no possibility for the defendant destroying evidence.”
According to the Turkish constitution, the Constitutional Court of Turkey is the highest legal body in the Republic, and “examines the constitutionality, in respect of both form and substance, of laws, decrees having the force of law, and the Rules of Procedure of the Turkish Grand National Assembly.”
Brunson’s next trial hearing is set for Oct. 12. He faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted.
Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hinted that Brunson could be released from Turkish custody within a matter of days. Pompeo, who has led a sustained diplomatic effort to have the pastor released, declared that Brunson “should have been released last month,” and that he expected “he could be released this month,” according to the Financial Times.
“He should be released today in fact,” Pompeo said on Sept. 24. “We have talked to the Turks. They know the expectations.”
He added that “Pastor Brunson and the other U.S. persons that are being held by Turkey all need to be released by Turkey.”
“That needs to be done immediately,” Pompeo insisted.