US charges against Turkish ex-minister 'political'
Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag on Thursday said U.S. charges against a Turkish former minister for violating U.S.-Iran sanctions were "politically motivated".
Speaking at Anadolu Agency's Editors' Desk in Ankara, Bozdag described the move as an attempt by Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) members to take revenge for last year's defeated coup attempt.
FETO is using the U.S. justice system against the Turkish government, Bozdag said, adding that the Turkish government had warned the U.S. authorities about this issue.
An indictment was announced on Sept. 6 in New York, charging Zafer Caglayan and three other Turkish nationals for violating U.S. sanctions against Iran.
The charges stem from a probe into Reza Zarrab, a Turkish-Iranian gold trader arrested in the U.S. last year for alleged sanctions evasion.
Bozdag was referring to a previous attempt where FETO used its members in the Turkish judicial system to try and topple the government through an alleged corruption scandal.
He also said documents and information regarding the case had been seen by FETO members in the U.S.
"They [U.S. authorities] say they received the information via an FBI official and from the website of Can Dundar. How did you [U.S. authorities] confirm that information?"
Dundar is former editor-in-chief of Turkey's Cumhuriyet daily, and is currently abroad with an arrest warrant against him.
Bozdag said the chief judge in the case, Richard Berman, attended an international congress in Turkey as a moderator in 2014 to "support the propaganda and policies of FETO".
"He gave an interview to Zaman newspaper, a media organ of the group, and made statements using the arguments of FETO," Bozdag added.
FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup attempt of July 15, 2016 which left 250 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.