Turkey’s president says the New York trial of a Turkish banker is a U.S. conspiracy being staged to “blackmail” and “blemish” his country.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke Tuesday in Ankara, Turkey. His comments came as the trial of Halkbank executive Mehmet Hakan Atilla continued in its second week.
Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab described criminal activities he was forced to divulge after he pleaded guilty to seven charges in October and became a government cooperator. His testimony likely will win him leniency at sentencing.
The defense says Atilla is “not corrupt.”
Erdogan says the trial is a ploy to distract Turkey while Washington hatches plans to strengthen Syrian Kurdish groups Turkey considers to be terrorists.
U.S. prosecutors say claims the trial resulted from political maneuvering are “ridiculous.”