Cem Küçük, a staunchly pro-government journalist known for his attacks on government critics on social media, has said Turkish-Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab, who is awaiting trial in a New York jail since March 2016 for violating US sanctions against Iran, is a project of the Turkish state and a man of the government.
Zarrab’s trial in the US has drawn much attention in Turkey as he was briefly detained in 2013 along with others from the inner circle of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for having paid Cabinet-level officials and bank officers bribes to facilitate transactions benefiting Iran.
Speaking to the HaberTürk TV station on Thursday, Küçük said: “Reza Zarrab is a project of the Turkish state. He is our man.”
Küçük also talked about the arrest of Halkbank Deputy General Manager Mehmet Hakan Atilla in the US on Tuesday on charges of violating US sanctions against Iran, and described the development as a political operation targeting Turkish President Erdoğan.
Atilla was arrested when he arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City as part of an investigation into the violation of US sanctions on Iran. He is accused of conspiring with Zarrab to conduct hundreds of millions of dollars of illegal transactions through US banks on behalf of Iran’s government and other entities in that country.