Zarrab case in US is a plot against Turkey: Gov’t
The court case in New York against Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab on charges that he violated U.S. sanctions on Iran through Turkish banks is a “political plot” against Turkey, Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ has claimed, a week before the key jury trial.
“We make no secret of it: This is a political case and does not have a legal basis. It is a plot against Turkey. The prosecutors have been openly imposing pressure on the accused,” Bozdağ told reporters on Nov. 20 after a weekly cabinet meeting.
“This case is nothing other than a repeat of the failed legal coup on Dec. 17 and 25, 2013 by the FETÖ [Fethullahist Terror Organization] against our government, this time through the U.S. justice system. None of the so-called evidence in this case is legal,” he said, referring to the December 2013 corruption cases.
Zarrab was arrested in the U.S. last year 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.
He is widely known in Turkey, as his name was embroiled in the December 2013 graft operations that embroiled four former ministers and other state officials. The government accuses the network of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen for the corruption cases, saying it conspired against the state through its personnel in the judiciary and in the police department. FETÖ is also widely believed to be behind Turkey’s July 2016 military coup attempt.
A jury trial in the Zarrab case is slated for Nov. 27, amid speculation that the Iranian-Turkish trader has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in return for a witness protection program to be granted by the court.
“He is in a sense taken hostage,” Bozdağ said, claiming that Zarrab is “under pressure from prosecutors to become a confessor and to make accusations against the Republic of Turkey.”
“[The court] says FBI agents have confirmed [the evidence]. Are there documents to confirm this? Is there any importance of the confirmation of an FBI agent? No,” he added, questioning the legality and validity of evidence to be introduced to the court.
“Some evidence in the dossier is related to the December 2013 corruption operation, including recordings of phone conversations of senior government figures. All former judicial and police members of FETÖ who were involved in the 2013 operation have been removed from their jobs and many of them have already been jailed,” Bozdağ said.
“How could an FBI agent judge that these recordings and other information within the dossier are accurate? Has he taken all this fabricated evidence from those who conspired [in the December 2013 probes]?” he added, describing the Zarrab case as a “new plot against the government.”