Zarrab case judge linked to Gülen - Turkish presidency

A spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Wednesday that U.S. District Judge Richard Berman, who is presently hearing a controversial sanctions-busting case, had links to the movement of exile cleric Fethullah Gülen.

“The issue has gone beyond a legal case, it has become a political case,” İbrahim Kalın was quoted by Reuters as saying about the trial.

“It is known that the judge has participated in events upon Gülen’s invitation,” Kalın said.

Judge Berman is hearing the trial against a former executive at Turkish state lender Halkbank who is accused of helping Iran to evade U.S. sanctions.

The case's star witness, Iranian-Turkish gold trader Reza Zarrab, has so far linked the scheme to senior officials in the Turkish government including Erdoğan himself.

Turkey blames Gülen for the July 2016 coup attempt, and maintains that Gülenists are also behind the sanction-busting charges against Turkish officials.

Reuters cited Turkish newspapers which said Judge Berman attended a legal symposium in Istanbul in 2014.

Berman earlier said he was “one of five U.S. legal experts who spoke at the symposium and moderated a panel discussion on independent and effective judiciary”, according to Reuters.