A fresh appeal to free U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson, whose continued detention has sparked a diplomatic spat between Turkey and the United States, was rejected Wednesday.
State television TRT reported the 2nd Penal Court in İzmir rejected the appeal on Aug. 15 and sent the defendant’s petition to an upper court. In the ruling it stipulated Brunson, who faces 35 years in jail over terror and espionage charges, will remain in detention.
Brunson, a native of North Carolina who had been preaching Christianity in Turkey for decades, was arrested back in 2016 under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s crackdown on dissidents following a failed military coup against him.
AFP reports Brunson’s jail term had been converted to house detention for health reasons.
His detention has fractured relations with Washington, with U.S. President Donald Trump bringing in a raft tariffs for Turkey in punitive actions against Ankara’s refusal to release Brunson.
The United States will impose large sanctions on Turkey for their long time detainment of Pastor Andrew Brunson, a great Christian, family man and wonderful human being. He is suffering greatly. This innocent man of faith should be released immediately!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2018
The crisis has sent the Turkish currency into free fall since Friday.
“The president has a great deal of frustration (about) the pastor not being released,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Tuesday.
The statement came after U.S. embassy charge d’affaires Jeffrey Hovenier visited Brunson in Izmir.
The pastor’s next hearing as part of the trial is scheduled for Oct. 12.
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