Arrest warrants issued for FDD’s Erdemir and auditor Canıtez

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Aykan Erdemir

The İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on Tuesday issued detention warrants for former main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Aykan Erdemir and Turkish banking auditor Osman Zeki Canıtez for allegedly providing “fake evidence” to the US for the case of Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

According to the report Erdemir, who is now a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) in Washington, D.C., and Canıtez, who is sought for alleged membership in the faith-based Gülen movement, are accused of both “destroying documents related to the security of the state, using them for other purposes, obtaining them through deceit or theft” and “giving a fake report dated Jan. 28, 2014 to the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.”

It was also underlined that both Canıtez and Erdemir are on the witness list of the Zarrab case at the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The İstanbul 7th Penal Court of Justice approved the prosecutor’s request for the detention warrants.

Turkey on Monday requested Interpol red notices for three former prosecutors who were responsible for corruption operations carried out on Dec. 17, 2013 in which Zarrab and Turkish government officials were investigated.

According to the report the supreme court ruled to issue a request for red notices for ex-prosecutors Zekeriya Öz, Celal Kara and Mehmet Yüzgeç for “irregularities” in the Dec. 17 corruption investigation allegedly committed by the Gülen movement.

Zarrab, a Turkish-Iranian gold trader, was arrested in Miami in March 2016 on charges of evading US sanctions on Iran. Zarrab, 34, stopped appearing in court in the two months leading up to his scheduled trial, prompting Turkey’s prime minister to suggest he had reached a plea deal with US authorities.

According to Reuters, Judge Richard M. Berman, the senior federal judge of the court, told potential jurors on Monday morning that Mehmet Hakan Atilla (47), an executive of Turkish state-owned Halkbank, would be the only person on trial.

Zarrab and eight other people, including Turkey’s former economy minister and three Halkbank executives, have been charged with engaging in transactions worth hundreds of millions of dollars for Iran’s government and Iranian entities from 2010 to 2015 in a scheme to evade US sanctions.

Zarrab was the prime suspect in a major corruption investigation in Turkey that became public in December 2013 in which 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.

After Erdoğan cast the case as a coup attempt to overthrow his government orchestrated by his political enemies, several prosecutors were removed from the case, police were reassigned and the investigation against Zarrab was dropped in Turkey.

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