Nov 15 2017

Erdoğan not happy over Yıldırım's "U.S. is ruled by law" remark - Yeniçağ columnist

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met with Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım after the latter's return from the United States to express his disappointment over Yıldırım's remarks that "the United States is ruled by law," according to Yeniçağ columnist and former Prime Ministry press secretary Ahmet Takan.

Right before his Washington trip, Yıldırım had reacted to a U.S. Embassy statement that claimed that the Turkish government had given assurances of the freedom of consulate workers in Turkey.

In his reaction, Yıldırım said "Both Turkey and the U.S. are ruled by law, we didn't give any assurances."

Erdoğan has previously questioned whether the United States is ruled by law, while criticising the arrest warrants issued for his bodyguards seen beating protesters in Washington D.C. last May.

But according to Takan, the real damage that Yıldırım's remark has done is on the Reza Zarrab case. The Iranian-Turkish gold trader, who was the central figure in the 2013 graft probe, has been in a U.S. jail for more than a year accused of evading international sanctions on Iran with the help of a former economy minister and officials from a Turkish state bank. 

The Turkish government maintains that the evidence on Zarrab and Turkish officials was either obtained illegally or fabricated, and demands the charges be dismissed. Erdoğan personally pressed the Obama administration for the release of Zarrab at the time.

Takan wrote that he had heard passages from Zarrab's confession in exchange for a plea deal, which were circulating in Ankara political circles. The talk is now even more damaging than the facts, he added.