The evidence provided in the indictment against Reza Zarrab, an Iranian-Turkish gold trader, was not obtained legally, and the case is a clear political case and a "plot against Turkey" that carried out with fabricated documents, government spokesman Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ said Monday after a Cabinet meeting in Ankara. The Zarrab case in the United States "is the continuation of the Dec. 17 and Dec. 25, 2013 judicial coup attempt," Bozdağ said, referring to the so-called corruption case carried out against Zarrab and senior government officials through fabricated and illegally obtained information by members of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) who had infiltrated the military, police, and judiciary.
"It is a clear plot against Turkey. None of the evidence in the indictment is legal. It is the poisonous fruit of a poisonous tree. They are holding the trial with documents that do not exist, as if they have the documents in their hands. All economic relations between Turkey and Iran have been in line with international law," Bozdağ said, adding that the case is a political step against Turkey. Zarrab was arrested in Miami last year in March on charges of engaging in hundreds of millions of dollars of transactions on behalf of the government of Iran and other Iranian entities, which were barred by U.S. sanctions, while allegedly laundering the proceeds and defrauding several financial institutions by concealing the true nature of the illegal transactions.
U.S. prosecutors also charged former Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan, who is also the former general manager of state-owned Halkbank, Süleyman Aslan and two others for conspiring to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran. Zarrab and Halkbank Deputy General Manager Mehmet Hakan Atilla, who was arrested while in the U.S. in March 2017, were scheduled to stand trial Nov. 27, but the trial is postponed to Dec. 4 on late Tuesday.
"Those conducting the trial are applying pressure on the defendants. They are, in a way, held hostage," Bozdağ said and added that the defendants are being pressured to provide slanderous testimony that would help a court ruling against Turkey.
Bozdağ raised questions on the methods the U.S. authorities used to obtain the evidence, asking: "Is there a copy or originals of the evidence? How did FBI agents confirm these? Is there correct data?"
In addition to Bozdağ's criticism of the impartiality of the case, there have also been questions raised about the latest indictment against Zarrab and Çağlayan prepared by U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim. The information and evidence provided in the U.S. indictment was presented in the indictment against Zarrab during the Dec. 17 and Dec. 25 judicial coup attempt by FETÖ, which Ankara says was put together illegally, including illegal wiretapping and fabricated and bogus evidence.
In several places, the U.S. indictment refers to conversations between Zarrab and others, which was also included in the Dec. 17 and Dec. 25 indictment. However, it does not indicate how the information was obtained or where the conversations took place, raising the question of whether FETÖ is feeding New York prosecutors in an attempt to harm Turkey and Turkish interests and ultimately U.S.-Turkish relations.
Richard Berman is the judge presiding over the Zarrab case. He made anti-Justice and Development Party (AK Party)/Turkey statements at a FETÖ-sponsored symposium in Istanbul in 2014, criticizing the dismissal of FETÖ-linked judges, prosecutors and officers over illegal wiretapping and constantly supports FETÖ discourse against Turkey verbally.
Istanbul prosecutors launched an investigation Saturday against Preet Bharara, the former prosecutor for the case, and Kim, saying that the sources of the documents and wiretaps used as evidence in the U.S. case against Zarrab were unknown and violated international and domestic laws.
The prosecutor's office cited a deposition from Atilla's lawyer, Cathy Fleming, which was given to the District Court for the Southern District of New York on Oct. 30. "The files and evidence presented to the trial were plagiarized, tainted and unaccredited," the deposition said, also citing "illegal methods" in obtaining the evidence.
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