Turkey says US wants to use gold trader case to impose sanctions

Published: November 27, 2017
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Reza Zarrab, a Turkish gold trader who has been charged in Manhattan with conspiring to violate the United States sanctions on Iran, may have decided to plead guilty. PHOTO: AFP

Reza Zarrab, a Turkish gold trader who has been charged in Manhattan with conspiring to violate the United States sanctions on Iran, may have decided to plead guilty. PHOTO: AFP

ISTANBUL: Turkey called on Monday for the case against a Turkish gold trader in the United States to be dropped, saying he had been pressured to make accusations against Turkey and that the case was being used to impose sanctions on Ankara.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said the case against the trader, Reza Zarrab, who is accused of evading US sanctions on Iran, was an “indisputable plot against Turkey” and that it had no legal basis.

“They want to impose certain sanctions on Turkey through the Zarrab case, but the trade between Iran and Turkey is in line with our laws and international laws,” Bozdag, who is also the Turkish government spokesperson, told broadcaster Kanal 24.

Ankara says US court case ‘plot against Turkey’

“They may have told Zarrab: ‘Either you will remain in prison until you die, or you will sign under what we tell you,’ and they threatened him with retributions to sign off on accusations.”

Zarrab and eight other people, including executives of Turkish state-owned Halkbank, have been charged with engaging in transactions worth hundreds of millions of dollars for Iran’s government and Iranian entities from 2010 to 2015 in a scheme to evade US sanctions.

Only Zarrab and Mehmet Hakan Atilla, one of the Halkbank executives, have been arrested by US authorities. They have denied the charges against them, and the Turkish government says
the defendants acted within Turkish and international law.

US charges Turkish, Iranian nationals with evading Iran sanctions

Jury selection for the trial is due to start on Monday, but Zarrab has dropped out of sight in the last two months, prompting Turkey’s prime minister to suggest he has reached a plea deal with US authorities.

The Turkish government has previously said the case is politically motivated and that it may have been instigated by supporters of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen who it says have infiltrated US institutions including the judiciary.

“Needless to say, those claims are ridiculous,” Acting US Attorney, Kim H Joon said last week. The case has been handled by career prosecutors concerned only with US law, not Turkish politics, Kim said, adding: “They’re not Gulenists.”

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Turkey blames Gulen’s network for last year’s failed military coup against President Tayyip Erdogan in which more than 240 people were killed.

The Zarrab case is one of several festering disputes between Ankara and Washington, which disagree over US support for Kurdish fighters in Syria and suspended visa services after the arrest of a locally employed US consulate worker in Istanbul last month.

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Reader Comments (1)

  • numbersnumbers
    Nov 27, 2017 - 9:56PM

    Haha, “no legal basis” claims Turkey!
    All can look up case on internet to see actively evading sanctions on Iran is a criminal offense!Recommend

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