October 17, 2018 / 8:50 AM / a month ago

U.S. pastor Brunson's lawyer appeals Turkish jail sentence

FILE PHOTO: President Donald Trump closes his eyes in prayer along with Pastor Andrew Brunson, after his release from two years of Turkish detention, in the Oval Office of the White House, Washington, U.S., October 13, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Theiler/File Photo

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - The lawyer for U.S. evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson said on Wednesday he had appealed to a Turkish court against the jail sentence his client received last week for terrorism offences.

Brunson, at the center of a diplomatic crisis which helped send the lira tumbling this year, was sentenced to more than three years for aiding terrorist organizations but was allowed to return to the United States and met President Donald Trump.

The verdict was appealed because it “contravened the law and procedures,” a copy of the application seen by Reuters showed.

The prosecutor in the case also challenged the verdict, citing the same reason, a copy of that application showed. Both documents showed that detailed appeals will be prepared once they receive the court verdict in writing.

The pastor was charged with links to Kurdish militants and supporters of a U.S.-based Muslim cleric, who Ankara says orchestrated a failed 2016 coup. Brunson, 50, had lived in Turkey for more than 20 years. His arrest two years ago led to U.S. tariffs against Turkey and condemnation from Trump.

Relations between the two NATO allies have been under strain over U.S. support for Kurdish fighters in northern Syria, Turkey’s plans to buy a Russian missile defense system, and the U.S. jailing of an executive at a Turkish state bank in an Iran sanctions case.

The release of Brunson could help ease tensions, but political analysts say many problems remain, including Washington’s request for the release of other U.S. citizens and employees jailed in Turkey.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in Ankara on Wednesday, met with the families of three Turkish employees of the U.S. diplomatic mission who were detained after the attempted coup, according to reporters traveling with him.

Reporting by Ezgi Erkoyun; Writing by Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Daren Butler and Robin Pomeroy

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