ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s government is depicting an upcoming trial in the United States against a Turkish-Iranian businessman for alleged sanction-busting as a “conspiracy” against Turkey.
Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag on Monday also described the main defendant, gold trader Reza Zarrab, as a “hostage” who he claimed was being forced to testify against Turkey’s government.
Bozdag said: “The case is political, lacks any legal basis and is a conspiracy against Turkey.”
Zarrab, 34, has been charged for ignoring sanctions against Iran. An executive of Turkey’s state-owned Halkbank and a former Turkish economy minister have also been indicted. Jury selection for the trial begins Monday, with the trial itself starting Nov. 27.
Turkey says the case has been built on evidence initially concocted by followers of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is accused of orchestrating last year’s failed coup.