Erdoğan says Turkish banker released from U.S. prison could be given new duty

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Thursday invited Mehmet Hakan Atilla, the newly released Turkish banker who was convicted last year of helping Iran evade economic sanctions, to discuss his future employment, Gazete Duvar reported.

The former executive at Turkey's state-run Halkbank was released on July 19 from prison in the United States after serving a 32-month sentence. Evidence provided by the prosecution in the New York trial of Atilla alleged that senior Turkish officials, including Erdoğan, knew of the scheme to bypass U.S. sanctions. 

Erdoğan at the time said the Turkish banker was innocent of the charges and branded the trial as a conspiracy against his government.

Erdoğan said Atilla's trial and imprisonment period had "hurt and saddened" him and his party members, according to Gazete Duvar.

When asked whether he planned to assign a new duty for Atilla, Erdoğan said he had invited the Turkish banker to discuss future plans.

"There is no barrier for Hakan Atilla for us. He is our son. If we will not embrace him, who else will we embrace?" Gazete Duvar quoted Erdoğan as saying.