Reza Zarrab in the swap pool
Reza Zarrab, the arrested Turkish businessman of Iranian origin in the United States, is being bussed from one place to the other, not flown. From Miami to New York, he is being transferred with several stops in American federal prisons. This must be huge psychological pressure on him.
In an amendment made to the indictment last month, the office of the prosecutor did not include Turkey as part of the crime scene. In the first indictment submitted to court on Dec. 15, 2015, it was stated that Zarrab’s network was in Turkey. It was also openly written that the crimes were committed outside the U.S.
However, in the document that Zarrab’s case will be based on, registered in the court by Prosecutor Preet Bharara, New York was added to the venues of the crime. New York is the jurisdiction of Bharara and the court. Well, why did they not include New York in the first indictment? I have no idea. But, I am sure Zarrab and his lawyers will use this situation and object to the arrest. The office of the prosecutor will do its best not to let Zarrab go because of this.
They want to win. They want to have Zarrab sentenced and they are gathering information. Several people are eager to talk to the office of the prosecutor and provide information. They are trying to widen the investigation and find a Zarrab connection in certain offshore leaks.
Well, why are they working so hard to convict Zarrab? First there is Preet Bharara’s signature on the indictment. He is a prosecutor who cannot tolerate losing. Second, Zarrab is a very precious entity that the U.S. will not let go of after this.
Considering the bribe charges on Zarrab in the Dec. 17, 2013, investigation, it is not the only advantage Washington would have in terms of Turkish-American relations. As a matter of fact, Washington has had zero interference up to now. That decision might come later as the case proceeds.
More importantly, after Zarrab is convicted, he will be a very valuable swap component against Iran.
The latest incident was last January. There were 12 people in jail in the U.S. for violating the Iranian sanctions, 11 of them were also American citizens. Washington swapped six of them and added another Iranian tried for cyber-attacks for four Americans in Iranian jails.
But the issue is not limited to some other Americans in Iranian jails.
There are others that Washington is interested in, first of all, a former FBI agent known to have worked for the CIA, Robert Levinson, who went missing in Iran nine years ago. If Levinson is still alive, it is another mystery how Iran would publicly release him given that his relations have been disclosed.
However, Zarrab’s father, Hossein Zarrab, was one of the closest names to former President Ahmad Ahmadinejad. Reza Zarrab himself is definitely a huge opportunity for President Hassan Rouhani fighting hawks before the 2017 elections.
When Zarrab is swapped, will he be put in alongside his jailed partner, Babek Zanjani, or will he be treated differently because of commitments from his father. It will all be up to the president.
We don’t know how much Zarrab will talk and how much this case will affect Turkish politics.
As I said, this has not been decided yet.
But there is no doubt that after being convicted, Zarrab will be included in the swap pool.