Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called the NY trial of a Turkish banker accused of conspiring to help Iran evade USA sanctions "blackmail" and a "blemish" on his country.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke Tuesday in Ankara, Turkey.
"Turkey has no plans against the United States, but it is clear that the USA has plans against us", Erdogan said, according to an Associated Press report.
Turkey has detained 17 suspects in an investigation into a Turkish-Iranian gold trader who was once a close ally of the government but is now testifying against officials as a star witness in a high profile U.S. case, sate media said on Tuesday. He said that Atilla had continued to participate in the Iranian Regime's sanctions evasion scheme long after the Turkish investigation was dropped. It is believed that Turkey will seize Zarrab's assets. Turkish authorities have detained 17 people linked to Zarrab in an investigation launched after he cooperated with USA authorities.
Some of those detained in Turkey are accused of sending documents to the United States to help with the case.
The case risks further straining relations between Erdogan and US President Donald Trump already damaged by rows over the Syria conflict and US prosecution of Turkish presidential bodyguards.
Under questioning, Zarrab also detailed $45,000 in bribes he said he paid to a guard at New York's federal jail through a Turkish lawyer to smuggle in contraband while he was imprisoned. "The actions of this fraudster, the bribes to ministers, all this was given to you" by the MIT, he said. "You closed the dossier".
Zarrab, 34, who was expected to be on trial himself until cutting a deal in October, is testifying at the trial of Mehmet Hakan Atilla, a banker who allegedly aided the scheme.
Zarrab estimated that he made from $100 million to $150 million between 2010 and 2016 by carrying out various illegal schemes, including helping Iran evade US sanctions.