Zarrab being forced to sign ‘slanders against Turkey’: Deputy PM
“In their [U.S.] law, it is called the ‘negotiation method.’ But in my opinion, it is very clear that he has been pressured and forced to sign under their slanders, amid threats of punishment,” Bozdağ said on private broadcaster Kanal 24 on the morning of Nov. 27.
“With the negotiation method, they say ‘if you sign under the statement we have prepared we will release you. The time you have served in jail is already enough and you will be released. We give you this and that assurance.’ Defendents are then threatened with 35 years, 40 years, 150 years in jail if they do not agree to cooperate,” he added.
Zarrab was arrested in the U.S. in 2016 on charges that he conspired to conduct hundreds of millions of dollars in financial transactions for the Iranian government and other entities to evade U.S. sanctions.
The indictment widened to eight other names including state bank Halkbank Deputy Manager Hakan Atilla, former Minister Zafer Çağlayan, and Zarrab’s brother Mohammad Zarrab.
Zarrab has stopped appearing in court, prompting speculation he is cooperating with the U.S. and may testify against his co-defendant Atilla. Lawyers have refused to discuss Zarrab, though he apparently was the subject of a closed court hearing on Nov. 20 when the trial was postponed.
“There are reports that Zarrab has become a witness rather than a defendant in the case. We will see in due course the authenticity of news reports about whether he was hidden or exempted from being a defendant,” Bozdağ said.
Reiterating Ankara’s position that the case is a “political plot,” he stated that Ankara’s economic relations with Iran are in accordance with international and domestic law and the case in New York has “political motives.”
“It is clearly targeting Turkey’s economic and commercial relations with countries other than the U.S. and the EU,” Bozdağ said.
“Its legal basis is absolutely nonexistent. It is entirely a political case. There is no legal evidence in the file that is admissible in U.S. law … This case lacks any legal basis and should be immediately dropped,” he added.
Bozdağ also called on the U.S. judicial authorities carrying out the case to “reveal the sources of the evidence.”
“Do you have any evidence that is suitable for U.S. legislation or not? Who gave you this? Do you have the original copies or only duplications? Is this evidence somehow created? Did the U.S contribute to obtaining this evidence?” he said.
The deputy prime minister also referred to the arrest of Zarrab in the U.S., questioning “whether he went there or was brought there.”
Claiming that the first prosecutor of the case Preet Bharara opened the case “upon an instruction,” Bozdağ suggested the U.S. judicial system is “prone to being influenced … in accordance with its interests.”
“If the rules of being a state of law were in operation, the prosecutors would not and could not open this case. That is why it is political,” he said.