Turkey’s Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul demanded from the U.S. authorities the repatriation of a former Turkish police officer who testified in a high-profile U.S. case New York City this week.
“It has been requested by our judicial offices that (Korkmaz) be temporarily arrested with the aim of being repatriated, based on alleged crimes,” Minister Gul said in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, according to a report by Reuters.
The Turkish minister said Turkey expects that its request is met positively by the American authorities.
Former police officer Huseyin Korkmaz ruffled feathers in Ankara when he testified in a high-profile U.S. case in New York. He was one of the police investigators who launched the sweeping corruption probe that rattled Turkey and implicated then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan‘s son, cabinet ministers and close associates in December 2013.
Mr. Korkmaz who was then reassigned to an insignificant post and later imprisoned was released last year pending trial. Feared for his safety, he fled the country along with his family and smuggled the important part of evidence obtained during 2013 probe along with him.
He then cooperated with Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) in the U.S. and delivered the evidence to the U.S. law enforcement officials.
His testimony and acknowledgment of illegally moving material gathered in a Turkish legal probe out of the country prompted Turkey to summon F.B.I.’s attache in Ankara.
“I want to point out that a fugitive, a terror suspect facing serious allegations, taking part in this case in your country as a witness is big enough a scandal,” Reuters quoted the Turkish Justice Minister as saying. He added that the case could cause irreparable damage to relations if action was not taken.
Turkish Banker Mehmet Hakan Atilla currently appeared as the only defendant in the ongoing case over charges of involving in a multi-billion dollar scheme to subvert U.S. sanctions against Iran. Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab became a witness in the case and delivered baffling revelations.
He implicated current President Erdogan, who was prime minister at the time, in the sanctions-evasion scheme and admitted he bribed former Turkish Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan up to 50 million euros. He also bribed former Halkbank Manager Suleyman Aslan.
Former police investigator Korkmaz also pointed to then-Prime Minister Erdogan as the “number one” figure in the corruption probe.