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Turkey to Bring Zarrab Case to UN, Citing Sovereignty

Turkish authorities are mulling to bring a case in New York City where Turkish nationals are standing trial on charges of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran to the U.N. on the ground that the U.S. justice system cannot try Turkish citizens.

The move was first reported by pro-government Daily Sabah on Saturday. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also railed against the U.S. justice system and said the U.S. cannot put Turkey on trial.

The Turkish officials argue that the U.S. authorities breach Turkey’s sovereignty by trying Turkish nationals. One key argument the Turkish government presents is that the evidence currently being used at sanctions trial was obtained through illegal ways and cannot be used in a foreign country.

On Friday, Turkish-Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab continued to drop new bombshell revelations, revealing how Halkbank provided a cover for his sham food trade when there was no actual trade of food products.

Mr. Zarrab flipped recently to the U.S. government and began to work with the U.S. prosecutors to escape 75 years in prison amid severe accusations on different counts for violating the U.S. sanctions against Iran. Halkbank executive Mehmet Hakan Atilla currently appears as the only defendant in a case that rattled Turkey, plunged the Turkish-American relations into a new low.

Seven other defendants, including former General Manager of Halkbank, Suleyman Aslan, and former Turkish Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan, were also indicted in the same trial.

The star witness Zarrab implicated then-Prime Minister Erdogan and former deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan for their instructions to two Turkish public banks — Ziraat Bank and Vakifbank — to start gold trade with Iran in the sanctions-evasion scheme.

Halkbank appears at the center of the scheme, helping Iranian government to make its international payments through the Turkish bank.

Mr. Zarrab’s bombshell rankled the Turkish leadership. On Friday, a Turkish court ruled to confiscate assets and properties of Mr. Zarrab and his family members on charges of espionage in favor of a foreign country by providing state secrets.

The Turkish president said the U.S. “can never try my country.”

Both Mr. Erdogan and other government ministers cast the trial as a systematic effort to undermine Turkey and its economy. The Turkish leader personally worked to secure the release of the gold trader, to no avail.

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