US trial of Turkish banker part of attempt to stage new coup in Turkey – Erdogan

Sputnik– Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday described the ongoing trial in the United States of deputy CEO of Turkey’s Halkbank Hakan Atilla as part of the attempt to stage a new coup in Turkey.

On January 4, acting US Attorney Joon Kim said that a jury unanimously convicted Atilla of a scheme to send billions of dollars to Iran in violation of US sanctions against the country. Following the ruling, Ankara said the decision to convict the banker was unlawful.

“Those who failed to carry out a coup in our country on July 15 [2016] are now trying to find other ways to do it. The well-known process on the case of Atilla, which is now ongoing in the United States, is the address of the political component of the coup attempt,” Erdogan said while addressing the parliamentary group of Turkey’s ruling party.

In March 2017, US authorities detained Atilla on suspicion of a secret deal aimed at sending money to Iran in violation of anti-Tehran sanctions. The criminal proceeding against the banker were based on the testimony of Reza Zarrab, a dual citizen of Turkey and Iran, who was arrested in the United States in March 2016 on suspicion of violating these sanctions and pledged guilty in November. He cooperated with the US prosecutors, testified against Atilla as well as Erdogan, saying that he could have been aware of the deal.

On July 15, 2016, a military takeover attempt took place in Turkey, leaving over 240 people killed. Ankara accused Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, who has been living in the United States since 1999, and his followers of orchestrating the attempt. Gulen has refuted the allegations.