Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ said Monday that the United States wants to use the trial in New York of a Turkish gold trader to impose sanctions on Ankara.In an interview with Turkish broadcaster Kanal24, Bozdağ also said that the United States had pressured the trader, Reza Zarrab, to sign off on accusations against Turkey.
"They may have told Zarrab, 'Either you will remain in prison until you die, or you will sign under what we tell you,' and they threatened him with retributions to sign off on accusations," Bozdağ said.
He said that the case does not have a legal basis and needs to be ended as soon as possible, noting that the prosecutors need to show evidence and proof for their claims and clarify how they obtained the evidence.
Bozdağ added that the lawsuit aims to target Turkish economy through Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ).
Zarrab is incommunicado and diplomatic representatives of Turkey have not been able to gain access. Zarrab's lawyer has said that he cannot communicate with Zarrab, and the Turkish Foreign Ministry has issued two diplomatic notes to find out the whereabouts of Zarrab. Ankara has been notified that Zarrab's health is in good condition; however, there have been no further details on his whereabouts.
Zarrab was arrested in Miami last year in March on charges of engaging in hundreds of millions of dollars of transactions on behalf of the government of Iran and other Iranian entities, which were barred by U.S. sanctions, while allegedly laundering the proceeds and defrauding several financial institutions by concealing the true nature of the illegal transactions.
U.S. prosecutors also charged former Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan, Süleyman Aslan, who is also the former general manager of state-owned Halkbank, and two others for conspiring to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran. Zarrab and Halkbank Deputy General Manager Mehmet Hakan Atilla, who was arrested while in the U.S. in March 2017, were scheduled to stand trial Nov. 27, but the trial is postponed to Dec. 4 on late Tuesday.
Atilla has pleaded not guilty to charges he was accused of conspiring with Zarrab.
Jury selection in the case was set to begin Monday.
Manhattan federal court Judge Richard Berman has said Turkey's government can provide evidence to help the men instead of lobbying criticisms.
"US needs to withdraw weapons from YPG terrorists in Syria"
The U.S. would be deceiving the world if it does not stop providing weapons to the terrorist PKK's Syrian offshoot Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing People's Protection Units (YPG), Bozdağ said during the interview.
He said the recent phone call between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and U.S. counterpart Donald Trump marked a turning point in reviving relations between the two countries, but Washington must honor a pledge to end weapons provisions to the YPG.
"We need to see concrete reflection on the ground regarding the statements" Bozdağ said, adding that Turkey will closely be following the developments.
On Friday, the White House announced that President Trump said that he had informed Erdoğan that Washington was adjusting military support to "partners on the ground" in Syria.