Nov 17 2017

Former Zarrab prosecutor calls Turkish FM "a liar"

Former U.S. Southern District of New York Attorney Preet Bharara has accused Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu of lying over his claim that Bharara was "very close to FETO", the name given by the Turkish government to the followers of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen.

“Turkey FM is a liar," Bharara tweeted. "Now let's see what happens in court.”

Çavuşoğlu has been blaming Gülen, the alleged mastermind of the July 2016 coup attempt, for inciting a U.S. investigation into a Turkish-Iranian gold trader, Reza Zarrab, and high-level Turkish officials including former Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan for money laundering and violating sanctions against Iran.

The investigation is a “political case”, Çavuşoğlu said in March, claiming that Bharara, the attorney who originally charged Zarrab, had “close ties to FETO” and that the case’s judge, Richard Berman, had come to Turkey to participate in “some political meetings”.

Bharara responded at the time in a brief statement to the New York Times:

I am not going to comment on false and silly political propaganda by a foreign official regarding a case that I no longer oversee.

Today in Ankara, Çavuşoğlu repeated that the U.S. investigation was "FETO-motivated," and was quoted by AFP as saying, "all those indictments and files that they have fabricated here, they were taken back to the United States" in reference to a 2013 Turkish investigation which was shut down after prosecutors and police chiefs involved with the case were replaced by then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's government.