Turkish court rejects Andrew Brunson's plea for release from house arrest

One Turkish court has rejected an American Christian pastor's appeal to be released from house arrest and for his travel ban to be lifted, but an upper court is yet to rule on the appeal, his lawyer told Reuters on Wednesday.

Evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson is standing trial in Turkey over terrorism charges. His case now lies at the heart of a diplomatic crisis between Turkey and the United States that has sent Turkish lira into free-fall.

US pastor Andrew Brunson arrived at his home after being released from prison in Izmir, Turkey July 25, 2018.Reuters

Brunson, who served as pastor of a church in Izmir, was arrested in March 2016 and accused of having links with the outlawed Gulen Movement, blamed by Turkey's President Erdogan for instigating an attempted coup against him. He faces 35 years in prison if he is convicted of the offences.

While his removal from prison to house arrest was regarded as a sign Turkey might be preparing to release him, it was followed by sanctions imposed by the US on two Turkish minister and the doubling of tariffs on steel and aluminium.

As well as sparking panic in financial markets, the move caused Turkey's President Erdogan to react in fury. He told supporters that Turkey 'would not give in'. 'The US is sacrificing its 81-million-strong ally Turkey for a pastor with links with terrorists,' he said.

Brunson's next hearing is scheduled for October 12.

Additional reporting by Reuters.