Turkish gov’t has no ‘worry’ over Zarrab case in US
AA photoThe Turkish government has “no worries” regarding the ongoing investigation in the United States against a controversial Iranian-born Turkish businessman Reza Zarrab, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ has said.
“We aren’t doing conducting any specific monitoring [of the case] and we have no worries,” he told reporters on March 31, referring to the arrest in Florida of Zarrab, who was acquitted in a vast Turkish graft probe in 2014 after 70 days in jail.
Zarrab was arrested in the U.S. on March 21 on charges of conspiring to conduct hundreds of millions of dollars in financial transactions for the Iranian government and other entities to evade U.S. sanctions.
“Up until now, Turkey has conducted all of its affairs in line with the constitution and law – including relations with Iran. It will continue to do the right thing within the framework of the constitution and international law in a way that will benefit this nation. We’ll see what happens together,” Bozdağ said.
Bozdağ’s comments echoed those of President Erdoğan on the issue. Earlier this week, while departing for Washington to attend the Nuclear Security Summit, Erdoğan said Zarrab’s arrest was not a concern for Turkey.
“The real money launderers are there [in the United States]. Have the authorities taken any steps against them?” he said, in reference to the network of Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, a U.S.-based Turkish cleric whom he has accused of running a “parallel” state and of plotting to overthrow him.
Erdoğan was once a close ally of Gülen, whose network of followers runs schools worldwide. The two publicly fell out after police and prosecutors who Erdoğan said were linked to Gülen launched a huge corruption probe that touched on the Turkish leader’s inner circle in 2013. Gülen, who faces terrorism charges in Turkey, denies that his followers tried to topple Erdoğan.
Bozdağ also claimed that “the parallel structure” has been “fueling” reports on Zarrab, while stating that opponents of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had “almost declared a holiday” because they assume the government will be harmed by the case.
“Some dissident circles in newspapers, on TV stations, have been all smiles. They have almost declared a holiday because they think the government, the Turkish nation, and the president would be harmed,” he added.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş has said the U.S. authorities have not yet asked for any “document” from Turkey concerning the Zarrab case.
“The ongoing file which is opened is a legal process concerning the said person in the said country,” Kurtulmuş said in an interview with the TGRT Haber news station late on March 30 when asked whether the United States had appealed to Turkey for any “document” concerning the case.
“It is not a process concerning Turkey,” he added.