The U.S. court case on Iran sanctions is a political coup attempt, and an attempt at cornering Turkey economically through the CIA, FBI and Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Tuesday.
"The people who were unsuccessful in the July 15 coup attempt in our country are seeking out new coup attempts," he said, contending the Atilla case was another coup attempt.
"It is aimed to make an operation by constraining Turkey economically with FETÖ, the CIA and FBI. However, this will not work; they will fail. Turkey is not a tribal state. They should have known this," he said.
Last Wednesday, a New York jury found Atilla, a former deputy CEO of Turkey's state-run Halkbank, guilty on five of six counts related to conspiracy and bank fraud, including Iran sanctions violations, but acquitted him of a money laundering charge.
The Turkish government, however, denies the case has any legitimacy and asserts that it is a political plot orchestrated by FETÖ. "While all this is taking place, it is not possible to say that this case is still a legal, technical case regarding sanctions. A political perception operation is being carried out with this against our president, the Republic of Turkey and high-level authorities of the Republic of Turkey," presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın said earlier in December.
Reza Zarrab, 34, an Iranian-Turkish former gold trader, was arrested by U.S. authorities in March 2016 on suspicion of taking part in the alleged sanctions-busting scheme, but turned state's witness in an apparent plea bargain.
In November, Zarrab accepted all the U.S. charges against him, including violation of the now-lifted U.S. sanctions on Iran, money laundering and other charges, and agreed to testify against Atilla.
FETÖ and its U.S.-based leader, Fetullah Gülen, orchestrated the coup attempt of July 15, 2016, which left 249 people dead and nearly 2,200 injured.
FETÖ is behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the Turkish government through the infiltration of institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.