POLITICS >Erdoğan says he asked US VP Biden about arrest of Iranian-Turkish businessman Zarrab

Fikret Bila / Abdulkadir Selvi - UNITED NATIONS

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that he asked U.S. Vice President Joe Biden about the arrest of Iranian-Turkish businessman Reza Zarrab, who was arrested in the U.S. on charges of money laundering and sanctions evasion in March, during his talks at the U.N. in New York.

“In my talks with Biden, I also brought up the Reza Zarrab issue when the judiciary subject was raised. The court which the U.S. Department of Justice referred this case to is also interesting. Both prosecutor [Preet] Bharara and judge Richard Berman are names who had previously been hosted by FETÖ [the Fethullahist Terror Organization] in Turkey. In other words, the U.S. Department of Justice handed Zarrab over to names which FETÖ had wined and dined. I told this to Biden. He said, ‘I did not know that much.’ They are after other things through relationship networks, not through the law,” Erdoğan said while speaking aboard the presidential plane as he was returning from the General Assembly of the United Nations on Sept. 24.

The president also added there were “malicious intentions” in the Zarrab case, as his name had been listed in the indictment.

“It is interesting that the indictment reads my wife [Emine Erdoğan] was the founder of TOGEM [the Social Development Center] and I had a relationship with that association. However, neither my wife nor I are among the founders of that association. The fact that this is mentioned shows the direction of those men’s malicious intent, as there is no such [association]. As my Foreign Ministry undersecretary expressed well, there is an article called sovereign immunity in the U.S. judicial system. According to that, it is impossible for heads of state to be put into the subject of any court. Nevertheless, the fact that our name is attempted to be put on the indictment reveals that there is a malicious intent here,” the president said.

Erdoğan also noted that Zarrab had not committed any crime according to the determinations of multiple Turkish ministries, saying the country would not remain insensitive to the arrest any of its citizens in another country.

“That person [Zarrab] is a citizen of the Turkish Republic. He was arrested the moment he entered the U.S. with his wife and child. They were sent back to Turkey immediately. I asked: According to what rule had that arrest been made?” Erdoğan said.

“After all, we have to seek justice for he is our citizen. That could have been another citizen other than Reza Zarrab. We cannot remain insensitive to the arrest of any of our citizens in another country, just as how the U.S. cannot remain insensitive to the arrest of its citizens in Turkey. Moreover, that person has not committed any crime according to works by our justice and economy ministries. Iran also says the same thing. However, that person has been under arrest in the U.S. for six months,” Erdoğan said.

Zarrab was arrested in Miami in March on charges of money laundering and sanctions evasion.


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