Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım slammed the prosecution of Turkish businessmen in the United States, saying the charges against them were based on unfounded claims and lies.Speaking at the Turkey Economy Summit in Istanbul Wednesday, the prime minister said the efforts to undermine Turkey's economic success through such cases will not yield results.
Yıldırım reiterated that Turkey has never done any transactions or exports that violate its own laws or international law.
The U.S. trial of Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab, who is accused of violating U.S. sanctions on Iran has become a new source of tensions between the two countries. Ankara has described the case as a "clear plot against Turkey", and has accused the U.S. prosecutors of having links to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ).
Zarrab was arrested in Miami on March 16, 2016 on charges of engaging in hundreds of millions of dollars of transactions on behalf of Iran's government and other Iranian entities, which were barred by U.S. sanctions.
Meanwhile, Zarrab allegedly laundered the proceeds and defrauded several financial institutions by concealing the true nature of his illegal transactions.
U.S. prosecutors also charged Turkey's former Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan, who is also the former general manager of state-owned Halkbank, Süleyman Aslan and two others for conspiring to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran.
Zarrab and Halkbank's Deputy General Manager Mehmet Hakan Atilla, who was arrested while in the U.S. in March 2017, were scheduled to stand trial on Nov. 27 but on late Tuesday the trial was postponed to Dec. 4.
On Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ raised questions about the methods the U.S. authorities used to obtain the evidence, asking, "Is there a copy or the originals of the evidence? How did FBI agents confirm these?"
He added that the defendants are being pressured to provide slanderous testimony that would help a court ruling against Turkey.
"Those conducting the trial are exerting pressure on the defendants. They are, in a way, held hostage," Bozdağ said.