Dec 20 2017

Erdoğan could have acted over Zarrab scheme – columnist

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had sufficient information from intelligence services to stop Iranian-Turkish gold dealer Reza Zarrab’s scheme to bypass international sanctions on Iran, a columnist in the secular Sözcü newspaper said.

Erdoğan, prime minister at the time, received the information in a briefing by agents from the National Intelligence Organisation (MİT) in October 2014, eight months after Zarrab had been released from a Turkish jail following his arrest on corruption charges connected with his oil-for-gold sanctions-busting scheme.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said last week that a briefing can be given to anyone but the most important thing was that there was no official report, implying that the government could not take action based only on a briefing.

Sözcü columnist Saygı Öztürk said he asked a senior official who is still working at MİT, whether any action could have been taken with a briefing or not and received the answer “of course they could have taken action”.

“On the left top side of the papers sent by intelligence, it says ‘briefing’. In the content of that briefing there is comprehensive information obtained by an agent or collected with ‘special methods’,” the senior official told Öztürk.

“If the related authority wants, it can turn that briefing into a report or it can send it to related units requesting them to do whatever needs to be done,” he said. “In this situation, it means that intelligence fulfilled its duty by sending the briefing.”