Former Minister Çağlayan: I don’t recognise U.S. court as legitimate

Turkey’s former Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan, who is named as a defendant in the U.S. indictment on evading sanctions against Iran, said he does not recognise the legitimacy of the U.S. court, a columnist from the right-wing newspaper Yeniçağ wrote.

“This is a political trial, I am not a U.S. citizen, and I do not recognise the legitimacy of that court” columnist Orhan Uğuroğlu quoted Çağlayan as saying, the arrest order is a “worthless piece of paper”.

Uğuroğlu noted he has been friends with the former minister for more than 50 years, and this was why Çağlayan talked to him while rejecting other journalists' questions about the Zarrab trial, Uğurluoğlu said. Çağlayan also assured him that the Turkey-Iran bilateral trade was legal, Uğurluoğlu said.

The 2010 U.N. sanctions on Iran require any country with a bilateral trade agreement with Iran to open a bank account for Iran at a local bank, Uğuroğlu wrote, where the payments of oil and gas imports from Iran would be transferred, and payments of exports to Iran would be deduced.

Çağlayan, economy minister at the time, assigned state-owned Halkbank to manage Iran’s account, Uğuroğlu wrote, helping the volume of bilateral trade to grow from $3.5 billion in 2011 to $11 billion in 2012.

But when the Turkish government blocked the U.S. companies who were using the Halkbank route in their trade to Iran, Uğuroğlu said, U.S. senators blamed Turkey for evading sanctions.

Uğuroğlu said there is a link between the Dec. 17-25, 2013 graft probe against Turkish government ministers and businesspersons with close ties to the government, the July 2016 coup attempt, and the U.S. trial of Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab along with Çağlayan and former Halkbank officials.

These attacks on Turkey are committed by “FETÖ”, the name given by the Turkish government to U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen’s followers —who denies any involvement—, and they are backed by the U.S. intelligence agency CIA, Uğuroğlu wrote.