Turkey says US conviction of banker ‘unjust and unfortunate’

This file photo taken on December 2, 2017 shows the logo of the Turkish Halkbank in Istanbul. (AFP)
Updated 04 January 2018
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Turkey says US conviction of banker ‘unjust and unfortunate’

ANKARA: Turkey on Thursday slammed a US jury’s decision to convict a Turkish banker for helping Iran evade sanctions as “unjust and unfortunate” and cast the trial as unprecedented interference in Ankara’s internal affairs.
The decision, which capped a nearly four-week trial that had already strained diplomatic relations between Turkey and the United States, is only likely to add to the tension between the NATO allies.
Mehmet Hakan Atilla, an executive at Turkey’s majority state-owned Halkbank, was convicted on five of six counts he faced, including bank fraud and conspiracy to violate US sanctions law, in Manhattan federal court on Wednesday.
“It is an unjust and unfortunate development that Halkbank Deputy General Manager Mehmet Hakan Atilla was found guilty,” Turkey’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
“The US court, in a process carried out by relying on so-called ‘evidence’, which is fake and open to political exploitation... made an unprecedented interference in Turkey’s internal affairs.”
President Tayyip Erdogan, who has yet to comment on the decision, has previously dismissed the case as a politically motivated attack on his government.
In a statement, Halkbank said Atilla had the right to appeal against the decision and said it had not been a party to the US case and noted there had been no financial or administrative decision taken against it by the court.
The defense team of Atilla, who was arrested in the US last March while on a business trip, failed to obtain a mistrial on grounds that a report was introduced late in the trial and it was not included in the list of evidence material at the start of the trial, Turkish daily Hurriyet reported.
Halkbank has denied any wrongdoing and said that its transactions were in line with local and international regulations.
Shares of Halkbank were up 2 percent at 11.14 lira in Istanbul, after earlier advancing as much as 4 percent.


Iran faces ‘strongest sanctions in history’

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Updated 22 May 2018
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Iran faces ‘strongest sanctions in history’

  • US Secretary of State laid out Trump administration’s strategy for constraining Iran’s nuclear program
  • US threatens "strongest sanctions in history" if Iranian government does not change course

WASHINGTON: The US told Iran on Monday to drop its nuclear ambitions and pull out of the Syrian civil war in a list of demands that marked a new hard-line against Tehran and prompted an Iranian official to warn that Washington seeks regime change.

Weeks after US President Donald Trump pulled out of an international nuclear deal with Iran, his administration threatened to impose “the strongest sanctions in history,” setting Washington and Tehran on a deeper course of confrontation.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo demanded sweeping changes that would force Iran effectively to reverse years of its foreign policies.

“The sting of sanctions will only grow more painful if the regime does not change course from the unacceptable and unproductive path it has chosen for itself and the people of Iran,” Pompeo said in his first major speech since becoming secretary of state.

“These will be the strongest sanctions in history by the time we are done,” he added.

Pompeo took aim at Iran’s policy of expanding its influence in the Middle East through support for proxy armed groups in countries such as Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.

He warned that the US would “crush” Iranian operatives and allies abroad and told Tehran to pull out forces under its command from the Syrian civil war where they back President Bashar Assad.

Iran is unlikely to accede to the US demands. Tension between the two countries has grown notably since Trump this month withdrew from the 2015 nuclear agreement aimed at preventing Tehran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Pompeo warned that if Iran fully resumed its nuclear program Washington would be ready to respond and said the administration would hold companies doing prohibited business in Iran to account.

“Our demands on Iran are not unreasonable: Give up your program,” Pompeo said, “Should they choose to go back, should they begin to enrich, we are fully prepared to respond to that as well,” he said, declining to elaborate.

Pompeo said if Iran made major changes, the US was prepared to ease sanctions, re-establish full diplomatic and commercial relations and support the country’s re-integration into the international economic system.

The speech did not explicitly call for regime change but Pompeo repeatedly urged the Iranian people not to put up with their leaders, specifically naming President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

“At the end of the day the Iranian people will get to make a choice about their leadership. If they make the decision quickly, that would be wonderful, if they choose not to do so we will stay hard at this until we achieve the outcomes I set forward,” said Pompeo.