Turkish President strongly criticizes recent US court decision in Turkish banker case

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday slammed the recent U.S. verdict in a case involving Turkish banker Mehmet Hakan Atilla, saying the U.S. should reconsider its sense of justice.

"If this is the U.S.' sense of justice, then yes, the world is toast. The U.S. must reconsider its sense of justice," Erdogan told reporters at Istanbul's Ataturk International Airport ahead of his departure for France.

"There can be no such sense of justice, and then they try to teach the world justice," he added.

On Wednesday, a jury in New York found Atilla, the 47-year-old former deputy chief executive officer of Turkey's public lender Halkbank, guilty on five counts related to conspiracy and bank fraud but acquitted him of a money laundering charge.

The verdict by a panel of six men and six women came after more than three weeks of testimonies and four days of deliberation.

The counts on which the banker was declared guilty included violation of U.S. sanctions against Iran, crimes to deceive the U.S. and defrauding U.S. banks.

“Not only that, the things that are going around in the Riza Sarraf issue … on the other hand they have attempted a coup in my country,” Erdogan said, adding that the U.S. does not respect or take any of Turkey’s recommendations into consideration.

Defense cooperation

“I’m sorry, but is this how you approach this? Then what can be made of the international and bilateral deals between us? They lose validity.”

Turkish businessman Riza Sarraf was arrested in 2016 in the U.S. on similar charges and pleaded guilty. He later testified against Atilla.

On relations with France, Erdogan said cooperation between the two countries was important for regional and international peace.

“We are actually in close contact with [French] President Macron on many issues. I especially care about this visit on the grounds of an extensive and strong partnership.

“With Mr. Macron, we will discuss cooperation in fields such as economy, trade, defense industry, counter-terrorism on a priority basis.

"In the defense industry, I specifically care about the step we will take regarding Eurosam as the France-Turkey-Italy trio, is very, very important. Today, we will discuss it again,” he said.

Turkey’s defense industry and the Franco-Italian Eurosam consortium will work together to determine the mutual needs and priorities as well as analyzing an air defense system using SAMP-T system as a base.

SAMP-T (Surface-to-Air Missile Platform) is a long-range, medium altitude air and ballistic missile defense system.

Iran protest

Speaking about the wave of street demonstrations in Iran, Erdogan said it was unacceptable for countries such as the U.S. and Israel to meddle in internal affairs.

During Thursday’s phone call, Rouhani said that the country would get back to normal, Erdogan added.

On Dec. 28, thousands of Iranians took to the streets in the northeastern cities of Mashhad and Kashmar to protest against rising commodity prices and perceived government mismanagement, according to local media reports.

The anti-regime protests were followed by pro-government protests on Saturday and Wednesday. At least 23 people, including a police officer, have been killed and more than 1,000 reportedly detained since the demonstrations began.