Erdoğan to US: You can’t convict Turkey with virtual courts

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President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (Murat Cetinmuhurdar / Anadolu Agency)

As Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab revealed his tactics and accomplices in the Turkish government in violating US sanctions on Iran in a New York federal court, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan targeted the US, saying not to try to convict Turkey with virtual courts, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

“My country cannot be convicted with virtual courts and fake representatives of the vile Feto [a derogatory term coined by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to refer to the Gülen movement],” Erdoğan said on Saturday in Kars province.

Zarrab testified in New York federal court on Thursday that Turkey’s then-prime minister and current president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, personally authorized the involvement of Turkish banks in a scheme to evade US sanctions on Iran.

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 and implicated the inner circle of the ruling AKP government and then-Prime Minister Erdoğan. Zarrab was alleged to have 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.

Erdoğan and his government launched an all-out war against the Gülen movement following the corruption operations of December 2013.

Erdoğan also accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding a failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016.

Despite the movement strongly denying involvement in the failed coup, Erdoğan launched a witch-hunt targeting the movement following the failed coup.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

The government has seized at least 1,068 companies and 4,888 properties as part of the witch-hunt targeting the Gülen movement.

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