Former Halkbank exec wants US court to drop case

Former Halkbank exec wants US court to drop case

Former Halkbank exec wants US court to drop case

A former Halkbank executive, who has been serving out his sentence in a federal prison in the state of Pennsylvania, has asked a U.S. appeals court to drop the case against him, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Dec. 3.

A U.S. court had sentenced Mehmet Hakan Atilla to 32 months in prison in May for helping Iran evade U.S. sanctions, but the New York prosecutor’s office withdrew last month an appeal to extend the sentence amid recovering Turkey-U.S. ties.

Anadolu Agency said Atilla’s lawyers’ demand followed the prosecutor’s move, adding that the former bank deputy general manager said he would seek retrial if the demand is rejected because his “right to a fair trial would be violated.”

According to the U.S. prison authority’s website, Atilla is scheduled to be released on July 25.

Turkey is closely watching the case, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told a group of journalists on Dec. 25 last year.

“We simply don’t want the unjust suffering of Halkbank,” he said.

The Halkbank case was one of the several issues that strained Ankara-Washington ties, which started to recover after U.S. Pastor Andrew Brunson, who was charged over links to FETÖ, believed to have masterminded the 2016 coup attempt, was released due to time spent behind bars and under house arrest, two years and three months.

A telephone call between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump on Dec. 14 last year gave a new boost to the relations of the two NATO allies. The U.S. had later announced a decision to withdraw troops in Syria, after calls by the Turkish president for a military operation into the east of Euphrates River, where U.S. troops are also deployed.