There is a ‘serious chain of plots in US,’ Erdoğan says on Turkish banker verdict
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Jan. 5 that there is a “serious chain of plots in the United States” after a New York court found Hakan Atilla, the former deputy chief executive officer of state lender Halkbank, guilty of helping Iran evade U.S. sanctions.
“There are not only legal plots but also economic ones in this process,” Erdoğan told reporters at a press conference before his departure for France.
Atilla was found guilty on Jan. 3 by a jury in New York on five charges related to conspiracy and bank fraud related to violating sanctions on Iran. He was acquitted of money laundering.
After the verdict, Turkish officials lashed out at the U.S. and said Ankara “does not recognize” the court decision.
“If you pay attention you realize that this ruling was full of contradictions. On the one hand it acquits him of money laundering but on the other hand he indirectly pleaded guilty of money laundering,” Erdoğan said.
“If this is the U.S.’s understanding of justice then I pity the world. America has to revise and strengthen its justice understanding. There cannot be such justice and they should not dare to give lessons to the world,” he added.
Reiterating Ankara’s anger over Washington’s apparent foot-dragging over Turkey’s demand for the extradition of Pennsylvania-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, accused of being the mastermind of the July 2016 coup attempt, Erdoğan accused the U.S. of allowing Gülen to “live like a pasha” in its territories.
He said “over 100 boxes of documents and evidence” showing Gülen’s link with the coup attempt have been submitted to U.S. judicial institutions.
“They won’t respect or take into account any judicial verdicts [given by Turkish courts]. Is this how you deal with the issue? If so then bilateral accords on legal affairs lose their validity,” the president added, referring to an agreement between Turkey and the U.S. on judicial cooperation regulating the extradition of each other’s citizens charged with certain crimes.
PM: Not a court but a theater
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım echoed Erdoğan’s remarks on the Atilla guilty verdict, stating that it was “a political case rather than a legal one.”
“It was a theater-like case that did not comply with universal legal norms. It was full of fake evidence and witnesses who themselves are criminals … We watched a play whose ending was already known [during the performance],” Yıldırım said.
He also vowed that Turkey “will not leave such attacks against its rights and interests unanswered,” adding that the ruling “has no value in the eyes of the Turkish people and state.”