ANKARA, Turkey: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is calling the New York trial of a Turkish banker a U.S. conspiracy being staged to “blackmail” and “blemish” his country.
Erdogan on Tuesday also characterized the trial against Halkbank executive Mehmet Hakan Atilla on charges of helping Iran evade U.S. sanctions as a ploy to distract Turkey while Washington allegedly hatches plans to strengthen Syrian Kurdish groups that Turkey considers to be “terrorists.”
Erdogan said: “Turkey has no plans against the United States, but it is clear that the U.S. has plans against us.”
A Turkish-Iranian gold trader, Reza Zarrab, has pleaded guilty to the charges and is now a key witness in the trial.
Turkish authorities have detained 17 people linked to Zarrab in an investigation launched after he cooperated with U.S. authorities.—AP