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Turkish Deputy PM: Iran-Turkey trade relations legal



A high-ranking Turkish official on Monday defended a former minister who had recently been charged with conspiring to violate U.S. sanctions against Iran.

At a news conference at Cankaya Palace, Deputy Prime Minister and government spokesman Bekir Bozdag defended former Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan against the charges, saying trade relations between Turkey and Iran are legal according to both international and Turkish law.

“There is no commercial transaction (between Iran and Turkey) that is against national and international law…It is definitely not possible to make (such a transaction),” Bozdag said.

An indictment was announced Sept. 6 in New York charging 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.

“If you ask what is trying to be done in the U.S. over Reza Zarrab and now the phenomenon that our honorable minister’s name is involved, the essence of the matter is this: The American judicial system is being used to repeat what the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) tried to do during the coup attempt of Dec. 17-25 (2013) (in Turkey) and failed,” Bozdag said.

He was referring to a previous attempt where FETO allegedly used its members in the Turkish judicial system to attempt to topple the government through an alleged corruption scandal.

Bozdag said Caglayan protected Turkey’s interests during that period and did his duty according to national and international laws.

“There is a very different thing here…It is part of a very dirty game. There is no evidence; there are fabrications,” he said.

Bozdag also said some circles are trying hard to harm Turkish-U.S. relations and they should not be tolerated anymore.

The Iranian-born Zarrab was arrested on March 21 last year in the U.S. on fraud and Iran sanctions-related charges.

He previously faced an investigation in Turkey in 2013 on charges of alleged illegal gold sales to Iran via Turkey, which resulted in his detention. That case was dismissed in 2014.

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. ​