Zarrab case in US is plot against Turkey, presidential aide says

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published

Presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said the ongoing Reza Zarrab case in the U.S. has turned into a plot against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Republic of Turkey and high-ranking Turkish authorities.

Stressing that Zarrab's statements earlier this week indicate that he is willing to tell lies of any kind to get out of jail, Kalın said the case is not judicial or technical. "There are statements in court that Reza Zarrab has made especially since yesterday. He also indicated how he made an agreement to get out of the prison [and] what kind of lies he is prepared to tell." "While all these are taking place, it is not possible to say that this case is still a legal, technical case regarding an embargo. A political operation of perception is being carried out over this against our president, the Republic of Turkey, and the high-level authorities of the Republic of Turkey," he added.

Zarrab last month accepted all the U.S. charges against him, including the violation of now-lifted U.S. sanctions against Iran, money laundering and other charges, and agreed to cooperate as a witness against Mehmet Hakan Atilla, the former deputy CEO of Turkey's state-run lender Halkbank.

Zarrab, 34, was arrested by U.S. authorities in March 2016 on suspicion of taking part in the alleged sanctions-busting scam but is now cooperating with the authorities in an apparent plea bargain.

Commenting on speculation that Turkish banks may be fined as a result of the ongoing case, Kalın said Halkbank has gathered a good team of attorneys. "The necessary steps will obviously be taken after seeing the case is actually on a legal basis." "The Republic of Turkey has not done anything against international law. These activities were carried out in those years in a transparent manner within the framework of our own national interests," the presidential spokesman said.

Pointing to the Dec. 17-25, 2013 judicial coup attempt in Turkey, which was carried out by FETÖ prosecutors and police officers, Kalın said that the case in New York is another step in it.

"We are now all probably clearly seeing that these issues are being brought back to the agenda now and that what FETÖ prosecutors could not achieve on Dec. 17-25 is being realized through [the case in] New York," Kalın asserted.

The cross-examination of Zarrab's statement started on Tuesday. He said he agreed to cooperate with the prosecution in August 2017.

The lawyer for Atilla, Cathy Ann Fleming, claimed that Zarrab had practiced the sketches he drew in court before with the FBI, which Zarrab also confirmed, saying he drew those sketches before.

On Monday, a letter from the defense cited a September 2016 jailhouse call in which Zarrab said he needed to lie in "'in order to get out or to get a reduced sentence."

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