Erdogan blasts Atilla banker case as political one

Erdogan blasts Atilla banker case as political one

The court case in which a former Turkish banking executive Mehmet Hakan Atilla was found guilty of violating US sanctions on Iran is a clear indication that the US is behind the Pennsylvania-based preacher Fethullah Gülen, believed to be the mastermind of the July 2016 coup attempt, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.

"This [case] revealed that the US is behind Pennsylvania. It is the U.S. that has allocated 400 acres of land and supported the leader of FETÖ in the US. All [Gülen’s] villas are under protection [of the US], Hurriyet Daily cited Erdogan as saying.

The troubled relationship between the two allies has come under further strain from the New York court case that found Atilla, a former deputy general director of Halkbank, guilty of evading US sanctions on Iran through gold-for-oil trade operated by Iranian-Turkish businessman Reza Zarrab.

The fast legal process and conviction on Atilla "leaves no doubt" that the US is behind Gülen, Erdogan added, bemoaning the fact that the US has "not taken even a step on Turkey’s demand for the extradition of Gülen, despite dozens of documents and evidence being submitted by the Justice Ministry."

“But we will continue to pursue him,” the President vowed.

He also stressed that Turkey "could initiate" legal action over the case of Atilla. "If necessary, we could file a lawsuit against the US regarding the Hakan Atilla case. Now Halkbank has the right to open a case, because [the New York case] tarnishes the name of our bank internationally," he said.

Erdogan blasted the Atilla case as a "political” one marked by "a chain of plots", noting that a fugitive former law enforcement official who testified to the court confessed that he received $50,000 from the F.B.I. "If that is indeed the case, it means that your entire justice system has collapsed," he said."

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