Turkey's Erdoğan describes Atilla case "political coup attempt" to undermine Ankara

Turkish President Erdoğan has chastised U.S. court verdict on Turkish banker Hakan Atilla, and saying that The case in New York is an attempt to corner Turkey through CIA, FBI, the Fetullah Terroris Organization (FETO) that was behind the bloody coup attempt on July 15 in 2016.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday condemned a U.S. sanctions-busting case against a Turkish bank executive as a "political coup attempt" and a joint effort by the CIA and FBI to undermine Ankara.

A U.S. jury last week convicted the executive of Turkey's majority state-owned Halkbank of evading Iran sanctions, capping a trial that has strained relations between the NATO allies.

Erdoğan, speaking to members of his ruling AK Party in parliament, said the CIA, the FBI and the network of the the Fetullahist Terroris Organization (FETO), which conducted failed coup bid on July 15, in 2016 were together using the case to undermine Ankara.

Last Wednesday, a New York jury found Atilla, a former deputy CEO of Turkey's public lender Halkbank, guilty on five counts related to conspiracy and bank fraud -- including alleged Iran sanctions violations -- but acquitted him of a money laundering charge.

Turkey has criticized the conviction as a political conspiracy lacking any real evidence and pushed by members and sympathizers of FETO, the group behind the 2016 defeated coup.

The Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup on July 15, 2016, which left 250 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.

Ankara 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, as well as having a large network of influence and intimidation abroad.

Turkey's president said that it was time to counter the PKK terrorists from forming a corridor in northern Syria, along Turkey's borders.

"It is time to block the separatist terror group from forming a terror corridor along Syria," said Erdoğan.

"We will complete this process by securing all our borders," he added, referring to a possible Afrin operation.

Any Afrin operation would follow on Turkey's successful seven-month Operation Euphrates Shield, which ended last March.

Erdoğan also praised "the firm stand" of the people of eastern Turkey during northern Iraq's Kurdish Regional Government's illegitimate referendum last September.

The illegal poll was condemned by the international community.

In 2016, Turkey launched the Euphrates Shield operation on its Syrian border to eradicate what it called a "corridor of terror", made up by the dual threat of Daesh and PKK affiliated PYD.

The PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU -- resumed its armed campaign against Turkey in July 2015.

Since then, it has been responsible for the deaths of more than 1,200 Turkish security personnel and civilians, including a number of women and children.

Erdoğan also said he was pleased with remarks by Devlet Bahçeli, leader of the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), backing Erdoğan's reelection next year instead of fielding an MHP candidate.

"Ahead of the elections, we should especially stress Mr. Bahçeli's national stance," said Erdoğan.

With this stance, the president added that "those who want to tear this country apart will not be able to achieve their goal."

Erdoğan said they would continue the partnership the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party formed with the MHP in the wake of the defeated coup attempt.

"[The presidential] elections in 2019 will be between people who are national, and those whose strings are being pulled by others," he said.

Ahead of a constitutional referendum last April, the AK Party and MHP both campaigned for approval of the sweeping package of changes.

The MHP has also worked with the AK Party on foreign policy issues, particularly since the thwarted coup.

Next year's presidential elections will be Turkey's first under the new presidential system of government.

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