The lawyer of the U.S. evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson, whose case had recently caused tension between Turkey and the United States, appealed yesterday to a Turkish court to overturn the jail sentence his client received last week for terrorism offenses.
İsmail Cem Halavurt, Brunson's lawyer, made his application on the grounds that "the verdict contravened the law and procedures," demanding a reversal of the jail sentence as well as an acquittal. Brunson was sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2016 for alleged links to the PKK terrorist organization and the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), who orchestrated an attempted coup on July 15, 2016. However, a Turkish court released Brunson from house arrest last week, as espionage charges were dropped and multiple witnesses changed their testimony, enabling him to return to the U.S.
The court ruled for the release of Brunson, taking into consideration the amount of time he had spent behind bars during the proceedings without being acquitted. The release of Brunson helped ease tensions between the U.S. and Turkey.
In a press briefing held yesterday, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu touched upon Brunson's statements suggesting he was exposed to poor conditions in jail, pointing out that the pastor initially commented positively on Turkey following his return to the U.S.
"We read the news which claims the prisons are not in good condition. We have no knowledge about the issue. Yet, our justice ministry is helping with the health conditions of prisons," Çavuşoğlu said.
Çavuşoğlu's statements were a response to the recent remarks by Brunson on his time in Turkey. On Tuesday, Brunson criticized the prison conditions in Turkey on a televised program in the U.S. He stated that initially he was held in solitary confinement for days, and during that time he came close to losing his mind. "Later, I stayed in an eight-person prison ward with 20 people, all of whom were accused of being a member of FETÖ and it felt like living in a mosque," Brunson claimed.
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