US needs to review charges: Erdogan
09 Sep 2017 - 3:17
Istanbul: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged the United States yesterday to review charges against a Turkish former minister for violating US-Iran sanctions, saying Ankara had never agreed to comply with the embargo and the prosecution was politically motivated.
“There are very peculiar smells coming from this issue,” Erdogan said.
Former economy minister Zafer Caglayan and the ex-head of a state-owned Turkish bank were charged with conspiring to violate the sanctions by illegally moving hundreds of millions of dollars through the US financial system on Tehran’s behalf.
“For the moment, it is impossible to evaluate this within legal logic,” Erdogan told reporters at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport. “I see this step against our former economy minister as a step against the Turkish Republic.
“We didn’t decide to impose sanctions on Iran. We have bilateral ties with Iran, sensitive relations,” he said, adding he had told former US President Barack Obama as much, when the sanctions were in force. “We said to the relevant people, we said we would not take part in sanctions... These steps are purely political.”
Prosecutors in New York said on Wednesday they had charged Caglayan and former Halkbank general manager Suleyman Aslan and two others with “conspiring to use the US financial system to conduct hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of transactions on behalf of the government of Iran and other Iranian entities, which were barred by United States sanctions.”
The charges stem from the case against Reza Zarrab, a wealthy Turkish-Iranian gold trader who was arrested in the United States over sanctions evasion last year. He has pleaded not guilty.
Reporters were not able to reach Caglayan or Aslan for comment.
“The United States needs to revise this decision (to charge Caglayan),” Erdogan said. “I hope we’ll get a chance to discuss this issue in the United States. You may be a big nation, but being a just nation is something else. Being a just nation requires the legal system to work fairly.”