President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Thursday that Turkey did the right thing and didn't violate U.S. sanctions against Iran, regardless of the outcome of the ongoing lawsuit in the U.S.
Speaking after a meeting with members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), the president said: "Regardless of the outcome of the case, we didn't violate the sanctions. The world doesn't just consist of the U.S. We have energy and commercial cooperation with Iran."
Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab was arrested in Miami in March 2016 upon his entry in the U.S. for allegedly evading a U.S.-imposed sanction on Iran, lifted three months before his arrest, with multiple money transfers.
Officials in Turkey have argued that the case has been turned into a political move against Ankara.
Turkey's claims were proved after the judge overseeing the Zarrab case was linked to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), led by fugitive preacher Fetullah Gülen, who has lived in a self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999.
The Turkish government has accused the group of exploiting the case by illegally obtaining and fabricating evidence, including wiretap records done by now-sacked FETÖ-linked police officers.
Ankara says the so-called "evidence" was illegal for a court to use under U.S. law, which requires that any piece of evidence must be obtained through legal means.
Zarrab has pleaded guilty and testified as the prosecution's key witness at the U.S. trial of a banker on charges the two of them violated economic sanctions against Iran, ending weeks of speculation in a case that has strained relations between the U.S. and Turkey.
The revelation came Tuesday as a defense lawyer asked for a two-week delay of the New York City trial of Mehmet Hakan Atilla, deputy CEO of Halkbank, saying he needed time to prepare for Zarrab's testimony.
Defense lawyer Robert Fettweis said prosecutors recently released 10,000 pages of evidence related to Zarrab, including emails.
Meanwhile, Halkbank in a statement Thursday claimed that the bank did not detect any illegality or violation of international banking regulations during their audit in the mentioned years.
Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ said Thursday he did not expect justice in the U.S. trial. He described it as a "play" where Zarrab was "hostage" in the U.S.
He also slammed Kılıçdaroğlu's recent claims of allegedly unlawful financial transactions implicating President Erdoğan's family members.
"We shouldn't think of these two as separate cases. Because the target in both cases is Turkey and its president," Bozdağ said.
AK Party spokesperson Mahir Ünal said the case was being used against the Turkish government.
"We saw who wants to put pressure on Turkey using this case. Our people can also see them. Just the way Turkey overcame other problems, it will also overcome this one," he said.
Defense attorney Victor Rocco raised questions over Zarrab's credibility in his opening statement at the trial, saying the case was really about Zarrab's crimes.
He said Zarrab made a deal to get out of jail, possibly joining the U.S. witness protection program so that he and his family can live in the U.S.
Earlier, Zarrab told the court that he paid 45 to 50 million euros plus approximately $7 million in bribes to former Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan, between March 2012 and 2013.
Çağlayan along with three other ministers resigned from their post at the time, and they were cleared of their charges in a parliament voting regarding the accusations.
FETÖ carried out a judicial coup attempt in December 2013, as it framed so-called corruption cases against senior government officials, using fabricated and illegally obtained information through its infiltrators in the military, police and judiciary.