Erdoğan says arrest of Zarrab, Halkbank executive in US not fair

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Reza Zarrab (L), President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Mehmet Hakan Atilla (R).

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said he does not see as fair the arrest of Turkish-Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab and Halkbank Deputy General Manager Mehmet Hakan Atilla in the US.

Atilla was arrested when he arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City in late March as part of an investigation into the violation of US sanctions on Iran. He is accused of conspiring with wealthy gold trader 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.

Speaking on a TV program on Thursday night, Erdoğan said: “It is very saddening for Reza Zarrab and the Halkbank deputy general manager to be subjected to such treatment in the US. We don’t see it as fair.”

Zarrab was the prime suspect in a major corruption investigation that became public in December 2013 in which then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s inner circle was implicated. Zarrab was arrested by US authorities in Miami in March 2016 on charges of helping Iran process millions of dollars of transactions when it was under US sanctions for its nuclear program.

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