US calls Bozdağ’s remark on Gülen-US judiciary links ‘absurd’

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US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert on Tuesday dismissed a question about remarks made by Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ, who on Monday claimed the US judiciary has become the tool of a Gülen movement plan, and called them “absurd.”

Following an arrest warrant from the US District Court for the Southern District of New York for former Turkish Economy Minister Mehmet Zafer Çağlayan, Bozdağ claimed the US judiciary was made a tool to achieve what people allegedly linked with the Gülen movement attempted, referring to a corruption probe that became public on Dec.17-25 in 2013, which implicated several members of then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s family, his inner circle and four former ministers, including Çağlayan. The probe was allegedly conducted by prosecutors affiliated with the Gülen movement to overthrow Erdoğan.

In response to the question about Bozdağ’s allegations, Nauert said on Tuesday that she had a three-word response to his claims, and said: “This is absurd.”

The US judicial system is being used to repeat what the Gülen movement tried to do during the coup attempt of Dec. 17-25, 2013 and failed, Bozdağ said.

The arrest warrants were ordered from the US District Court for the Southern District of New York for former Turkish Economy Minister Çağlayan, former general manager of state-run Halkbank Süleyman Aslan, the bank’s assistant deputy manager of international banking Levent Balkan and Abdullah Happani, an employee of Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab.

In the superseding indictment on the US PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) system, a handwritten note dated Sept. 6 saying that arrest warrants had been ordered appears at the end of the document charging four people, including Çağlayan, with conspiring to use the US financial system to conduct hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of transactions on behalf of the government of Iran and other Iranian entities barred by US sanctions.

The handwritten note says “Filed Indictment, Arrest Warrants ordered USMJ Parker,” a possible reference to US Magistrate Judge Katherine H. Parker.

The indictment that was filed by Joon H. Kim, the acting US attorney for the Southern District of New York on Wednesday, also charged four defendants with lying to US government officials about those transactions; laundering funds in connection with those transactions including millions of dollars in bribes to Cağlayan and others; and defrauding several financial institutions by concealing the true nature of the transactions.

According to a statement from the US Attorney’s Office last Wednesday, Çağlayan is alleged to have received tens of millions of dollars worth of bribes in cash and jewelry from the proceeds of the scheme to provide services to the government of Iran and to conceal those services from US government officials. Using his position as minister of the economy, Cağlayan directed other members of the scheme, including officers of Halkbank, to engage in certain types of deceptive transactions, approved the steps taken by other members to implement the scheme, and protected the scheme from competitors as well as from scrutiny. As a result, the co-conspirators induced US banks to unknowingly process international financial transactions in violation of sanctions on Iran.

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