U.S. court verdict “unprecedented interference” – Turkish Foreign Ministry
Turkey condemned a U.S. court’s conviction of a Turkish banker for breaking international sanctions on Iran as “unprecedented interference” in its internal affairs and said the guilty verdict was reached on the basis of “so-called evidence” and “delusional narratives” about the country.
The jury in a New York federal court returned a guilty verdict on Wednesday against Mehmet Hakan Atilla, the former deputy general manager of Turkish state-owned Halkbank, on five counts of helping Iran evade sanctions imposed due to its nuclear programme. The case contributed to increased tensions between Turkey and the United States after Turkish ministers were accused of corruption and involvement in the lucrative illicit scheme.
“The United States court has interfered with Turkey’s internal affairs in an unprecedented manner in a process carried out on the basis of so-called “evidence” open to fraud and political interference and discussed on the basis of delusional narratives about Turkey’s internal issues,” the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
Atilla was found guilty of conspiracy to violate U.S. sanctions on Iran, conspiracy to defraud the United States, bank fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering in a case based around his role in a scheme masterminded by Iranian-Turkish gold dealer Reza Zarrab, who acted as a witness in the case.
The verdict opens up the way for the prosecution of other Turkish officials, politicians and banks also implicated by Zarrab in the scheme.
“The seriousness and credibility of the judicial process was negated by the opportunity given to various FETÖ members to make false claims and present fake evidence that affected the legal process through the provision of material and logistic support by the United States,” the Foreign Ministry said, referring to Hüseyin Korkmaz, a former policeman who had been involved with a closed investigation into the same alleged events in Turkey.
The Turkish government says Korkmaz is a member of the Fethullah Gülen movement (FETÖ) that it says carried out the July 2016 failed coup attempt in Turkey.
“Our greatest wish is for the correction of this decision, which has besmirched the law,” the statement concluded.
Government spokesman Bekir Bozdağ also tweeted out a statement condemning the news.
"The Zarrab trial was a political conspiracy trial. In the Zarrab trial the law, courts and trial were shown again and again to have been used for political gain," Bozdağ said.
"The decision in this trial was given before the investigation (took place)" he added.
"The Zarrab trial is concrete proof of co-operation between FETÖ and the CIA/FBI/U.S. judiciary in Turkey and in the U.S."