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Turkey opens probe of US attorneys ahead of Zarrab trial

Turkish prosecutors say international laws were violated in gathering evidence against Reza Zarrab [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 19 November, 2017

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Turkish prosecutors have opened an investigation into two US attorneys who Turkey accuses of being linked to exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Turkish prosecutors launched an investigation on Saturday of two United States attorneys involved in putting a Turkish-Iranian businessman on trial for allegedly violating US sanctions against Iran, according to Turkey's official news agency.

The Istanbul prosecutor's office said it is investigating Preet Bharara, the former US attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Bharara's successor, acting US Attorney Joon H Kim.

The Istanbul prosecutor's office claims that the sources of the documents and wiretaps being used as evidence in the US case against gold trader Reza Zarrab were unknown and violated international and domestic laws.

Turkey's official Anadolu Agency published the prosecutor's office's statement on Saturday. 

Zarrab, 34, has been charged in the US for allegedly evading sanctions on Iran. An executive of Turkey's state-owned bank, Halkbank, also faces charges and is due to appear in court in New York on November 27.

Former Turkish Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan is also among the nine defendants indicted in the case.

Turkish officials allege the case is politically motivated. They have accused Bharara, the former US attorney, of links to a Pennsylvania-based Muslim cleric, Fethullah Gulen, whom the Turkish government blames for a failed July 2016 military coup.

Bharara has vehemently rejected the allegation. Gulen denies involvement in the coup attempt.

The US case was built on work initially performed by Turkish investigators who targeted Zarrab in 2013 in a sweeping corruption scandal that allegedly led to Turkish government officials.

Turkish prosecutors and police involved in the investigation were removed from duty, and charges that resulted from their probe were later dropped.

Since the July 2016 coup attempt, Turkey has arrested more than 50,000 people and fired over 100,000 state workers for alleged links to Gulen's network.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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