Turkey describes U.S. verdict on Turkish banker as scandalous decision

Erdoğan aide on Thursday lashed out at U.S. verdict on Halkbank executive Hakan Atilla, saying that U.S. court verdict on Turkish banker was a 'scandalous decision of a scandalous case.'

Turkey's presidential spokesman on Thursday described the U.S. verdict on Turkish banker Hakan Atilla as a "scandalous decision of a scandalous case".

Speaking at a news conference at the presidential complex, İbrahim Kalın said the U.S. court aimed to intervene in Turkey's internal affairs through the case.

"This [verdict] is a scandalous decision of a scandalous case. Moreover, it is loud and clear that this case is a conspiracy aimed at complicating Turkey's internal politics and intervening in Turkey's internal affairs," he said.

On Wednesday, a jury in New York found Atilla guilty on five counts related to conspiracy and bank fraud but acquitted him of a money laundering charge.

The verdict by a panel of six men and six women against Atilla, the 47-year-old former deputy chief executive officer of Turkey's Halkbank, came after more than three weeks of testimonies and four days of deliberation.

The counts on which Atilla was declared guilty included violation of U.S. sanctions against Iran, crimes to deceive the U.S. and defrauding U.S. banks.

Speaking about the the protests in Iran, Kalın emphasized the importance of stability and peace in the country.

"We should express once again that any foreign intervention in Iran will backfire. We do not accept interference at the cost of peace and tranquility of the Iranian society, through announcement and tweets," he said.

On Dec. 28, Iranians took to the streets in the northeastern cities of Mashhad and Kashmar to protest rising inflation and perceived government mismanagement, according to local media reports.

These protests were followed on Saturday and Wednesday by large demonstrations in support of the government.

Since the demonstrations, at least 23 people have been killed -- including a police officer -- while hundreds more have reportedly been detained.

On President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's scheduled visit to France, Kalın said he will discuss with his French counterpart bilateral relations, regional and global issues, including Syria, Iraq, Turkey-EU relations and Jerusalem.

Erdoğan's visit to France on Friday will come after a gap of two years.

On French President Emmanuel Macron's remarks regarding Turkey's press freedom, Kalın said: "We [Turkey] assume that this evaluation [of Macron] is based on lack of information."

On Friday, Turkey signed an agreement with Russia for the purchase of the S-400 missile defense systems.

Erdoğan's aide said Turkey and Russia would have a joint military drill and production. However, he refuted the Russian deployment in Turkey.

"It is out of question that Russian soldiers will be deployed [in Turkey]," he said.

The S-400 is Russia's most advanced long-range anti-aircraft missile system with a capacity of carrying three types of missiles capable of destroying targets including ballistic and cruise missiles.

The system can track and engage up to 300 targets at a time and has an altitude ceiling of 27 kilometers (17 miles).

Syrian National Dialogue Congress is scheduled to be held in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Jan. 29-30.

"No terrorist group can represent Syria [at the congress], Kalın said, adding that Syrian Kurds cannot be represented by PYD or YPG.

Kalın urged representatives of all groups -- regardless of their sectarian and religious affiliations -- to participate at the meeting, which he said would legitimize the decisions taken there.

The PKK/PYD is the Syrian branch of the PKK terrorist network, which has waged war against Turkey for more than 30 years. Turkey considers the PKK, PYD, and YPG as one and the same.

Turkish authorities have repeatedly said they reject the presence of any terrorist groups at the Syria talks.

Referring to the violation of rights and oppression in Syria, Kalın criticized the indifference of Europe.

"The western press may not want to see it because this is a living practice which has been implemented as a part of the U.S. plan," he said.

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