Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Picture: AFP
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Picture: AFP

Istanbul — On Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticised the conviction in the US of a top Turkish banker in a trial on Iran sanctions-busting, saying it was part of a "chain" of plots against his nation.

"What we are seeing in the US is a chain of serious plots," Erdogan told reporters at Istanbul airport after the conviction of Mehmet Hakan Atilla, deputy chief executive of Turkish lender Halkbank. "If this is the US understanding of justice then the world is doomed. There can be no such understanding of justice."

The trial, which rested on the testimony of Turkish-Iranian businessperson Reza Zarrab, a suspect turned prosecution witness, implicated former Turkish ministers and even Erdogan in the Iranian sanctions-busting scheme.

But Erdogan said the case was "full of contradictions".

He also took aim at the US for hosting the Pennsylvania-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen, who Turkey accuses of being behind the failed 2016 coup and also of influencing prosecutors in the Atilla case.

"Those who are attempting a coup against us in my country … live like pashas in 400 acres of land," Erdogan said in apparent reference to Gulen’s leafy estate.

The US has so far resisted pressure from Ankara to handover Gulen for trial. Gulen denies any involvement in the failed coup bid.

Erdogan indicated that consequently bilateral agreements between Ankara and Washington were losing their value.

"Well then, what are the international and bilateral legal agreements doing? They are becoming obsolete. I am saddened to say this but after this, the process will work like that," said Erdogan.

Analysts say that the court verdict has added more strain to Turkish-US relations and buried any hope of a reset in ties under President Donald Trump.


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