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Turkish court rejects U.S. pastor's appeal, upper court yet to rule - lawyer

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - 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.

It usually takes a court between 3 to 7 days to process an appeal but a ruling could come sooner in this case, Brunson’s lawyer Ismail Cem Halavurt told Reuters.

“A ruling can come tomorrow, or even tonight. These are appeals that require fast decision making because they are related to an individual’s freedoms,” he said.

A previous appeal by Halavurt on behalf of Brunson was rejected by the court.

The case now lies at the heart of a bitter row between NATO allies Turkey and United States, who have been growing apart for years over a series of disagreements on Syria, their perception of security threats and defence deals.

The evangelical pastor is accused of terrorism charges and aiding the network of a U.S.-based Islamic preacher blamed by Ankara for masterminding a coup attempt in July 2016 against Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.

U.S. President Donald Trump and his vice president Mike Pence have repeatedly called for the pastor’s release and have sanctioned two Turkish ministers after a Turkish court moved him to house arrest after 21 months in prison. Washington said the move was inadequate.

Last week Trump said he was doubling tariffs on metal imports. Ankara retaliated on Wednesday by doubling tariffs on some U.S. imports including cars, alcohol and tobacco.

Brunson faces up to 35 years in prison if found guilty. He has denied the charges. His next trial hearing is scheduled for October 12.

Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Dominic Evans