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US Pastor’s Case to Be Taken to European Court of Human Rights

Andrew Brunson’s case will be taken to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) if the U.S. pastor is not set free by Turkish authorities, according to media reports on Thursday.

Brunson has been detained on terrorism charges and after almost two years put under house arrest. If convicted, the pastor might face up to 35 years in prison. His arrest in Turkey has caused a rift and diplomatic crisis between the two countries. The Turkish government claims Brunson had close ties with the Gulen movement and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). He denies the allegations.

The United States has called for Brunson’s release calling it a “disgrace.” In response, Turkey suggested a swap him for Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen who is accused of being behind the failed 2016 coup.

Ismail Cem Halavurt, Brunson’s lawyer, said they would go to the Constitutional Court within weeks, as the final attempt to find a domestic remedy to Brunson’s case in Turkey.

“We will receive a formal notification on the latest verdict by the criminal court in Izmir soon. Then we have a month to appeal it at the Constitutional Court,” Halavurt was quoted as saying by Al Jazeera. He also added that Brunson’s “right to liberty and security,” as well as “right to travel,” have been breached.

“Unless the Constitutional Court frees him, we will have to take the case to the ECHR as the domestic legal remedies we can seek will be exhausted,” he said.

On Monday, the U.S. congressional delegation, which traveled to Ankara to talk about Turkey’s decision to purchase Russian missile defense systems, was not eager to discuss the fate of the American pastor.

The U.S. administration did not want to keep Brunson’s case as a topic for negotiations.

“We will pay nothing for the release of Brunson,” Trump tweeted.

His national security adviser, John Bolton, had issued a blunt warning to Turkish ambassador Serdar Kilic, saying that there would be no negotiations.

“Release Brunson,” Bolton told him, according to a CNBC report.

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