President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Washington of attempting to bring Turkey to its knees and discredit Ankara amid several lawsuits against Turkish citizens. “They can try as hard as they like but they will not succeed,” Erdogan added.
Erdogan’s remarks come less than a week after Reza Zarrab, a 34-year-old Turkish-Iranian gold trader, pleaded guilty to conspiring to evade US sanctions against Iran. He is set to testify against a Turkish bank official, Mehmet Hakan Atilla, charged with arranging illegal transactions involving US banks. While US prosecutors have charged nine people in the case, only Zarrab and Atilla are known to be in US custody, according to Reuters. The other defendants include Suleyman Aslan, the former head of Halkbank, and Zafer Caglayan, the former economic minister of Turkey.
Erdogan has repeatedly asked the United States to drop the case and release Zarrab, who is married to Turkish pop star Ebru Gundes. The Turkish government maintains that the case has been fabricated purely for political motives, adding fuel to the fire of the growing dispute between Ankara and Washington.
Commenting on the trial on Sunday, the Turkish president said that Washington is simply trying to discredit Turkey.
“They [US] are trying to punish, judge and discredit us because we did not submit to those scenarios. The scenario and the plot are obvious and they are doing this with their co-operators in our country. They are doing it with FETO [US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen’s movement outlawed in Turkey]. You will not be able to deceive us, you should know that,” Erdogan warned on Sunday, speaking at the provincial congress of his ruling party in the eastern province of Agri, as cited by Hurriyet.
“Our nation should know that these attacks, defamations and games are not independent of each other. All are aimed at the same thing: To make Turkey kneel down and to pit us against each other. They can try as hard as they like but they will not succeed,” he added.
Erdogan warned on Saturday that Turkey could never be made to stand trial in the US.
“My country can never be condemned by virtual courts set up by FETO scoundrels and fake representatives,” Erdogan said during a speech in the eastern province of Kars, adding: “Someone has gotten up and decided they will try my country in their rigged courts. Don’t bother!”
In August, a US grand jury indicted 19 people, including 15 Turkish security officials, in connection with a brawl between pro-Kurdish protesters and Erdogan’s security personnel in Washington, DC, which police described as a “brutal attack” on peaceful protesters. The incident saw several pro-Erdogan supporters push past DC Metropolitan Police to beat, kick and choke unarmed demonstrators, leaving at least 11 injured. The attack took place outside of the Turkish ambassador’s residence during Erdogan’s visit to the United States.