Turkish PM links US verdict on banker to FETO

Case of Hakan Atilla is based on fabricated evidence by FETO, Binali Yildirim says

Turkish PM links US verdict on banker to FETO Turkish PM Binali Yildirim

By Burcu Calik and Sinan Uslu


Turkey's prime minister on Saturday criticized this week’s U.S. court conviction of a Turkish banker, saying U.S. judges and prosecutors sympathetic to FETO, the group behind the defeated coup attempt in 2016, are trying to harm Turkey.

Speaking at a provincial congress of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party in the central province of Nevsehir, Binali Yildirim said those who try to give Turkey legal lessons ended up breaking the law.

He said the U.S. judges convicted Hakan Atilla in a case based on fabricated evidence provided by the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO).

"And then they call it an independent judiciary," Yildirim added. 

On Wednesday, a jury in New York found Atilla guilty on five counts related to conspiracy and bank fraud but acquitted him of a money laundering charge.

The Foreign Ministry called the conviction an "unjust and unfortunate development." 

The verdict by a panel of six men and six women on Atilla, the 47-year-old former deputy CEO of Turkey’s Halkbank, came after more than three weeks of testimony and four days of deliberation.

The counts Atilla was found guilty of include violation of U.S. sanctions against Iran, crimes to deceive the U.S., and defrauding U.S. banks.

FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup attempt on July 15, 2016 which left 250 martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.

Speaking later at an AK Party provincial congress in the central Kirsehir province, Yildirim said that in 2017 Turkey saw its second-highest export volume ever, reaching $157.1 billion.

“We’re aiming for $170 billion in 2018 and hopefully we’ll meet that target,” Yildirim said.

On recent anti-government protests in Iran, Yildirim warned against those who had “malevolent” designs in the region, adding that Tehran “needs to be vigilant”.

“Turkey never tolerates foreign intervention in the peace in Iran,” he said.

On Dec. 28, thousands of people took to the streets in Iran’s northeastern cities of Mashhad and Kashmar to protest rising inflation, unemployment, and perceived government mismanagement. 

The protests later seemed to turn into anti-regime rallies, spreading to the Tehran, Kermanshah, Sanandaj, Zanjan, Ahvaz, and Arak provinces. 

More than 20 people were killed in the demonstrations, including at least one police officer, while more than 1,000 others were detained by authorities. 

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