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"Zarrab Trial in US Political Not Judicial, Aims to Corner Turkish Economy" Featured

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Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said on Friday he hoped gold trader Reza Zarrab will "turn back from his mistake" in cooperating with U.S. prosecutors, reiterating Ankara's view that the U.S. trial of Turkish banker Mehmet Atilla is politically motivated.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of 1915 Çanakkale Panorama Museum in Istanbul, Yıldırım said the criminal trial in New York targeted Turkey and its economy after Zarrab pleaded guilty and testified as the prosecution's key witness in Atilla's case.

"This court case has stopped being judicial and became completely political, with the sole aim to corner Turkey and its economy," he said.

Turkish-Iranian gold trader Zarrab was arrested in Miami in March 2016 upon his entry in the U.S. for allegedly evading a U.S.-imposed sanction on Iran, lifted three months before his arrest, with multiple money transfers.

Officials in Turkey have argued that the case has been turned into a political move against Ankara.

Turkey's claims were proved after the judge overseeing the Zarrab case was linked to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), led by fugitive preacher Fetullah Gülen, who has lived in a self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999.

The Turkish government has accused the group of exploiting the case by illegally obtaining and fabricating evidence, including wiretap records done by now-sacked FETÖ-linked police officers.

Ankara says the so-called "evidence" was illegal for a court to use under U.S. law, which requires that any piece of evidence must be obtained through legal means.

Zarrab has at the U.S. trial of Mehmet Hakan Atilla, deputy CEO of Halkbank, on charges the two of them violated economic sanctions against Iran, ending weeks of speculation in a case that has strained relations between the U.S. and Turkey.

Yıldırım also accused the chairman of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) of "starring in" anti-Turkey attacks masterminded by the FETÖ, the group behind last year's defeated coup attempt.

Tthose who cannot digest Turkey's progress in the last 15 years continue their ugly attacks" against Turkey, he said.

"The leader of the main opposition party [Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu] is starring in the attacks, while the screenwriter is FETÖ, and the producer is the global political engineers. The plot is bringing Turkey to its knees," the prime minister said.

On Tuesday, Kılıçdaroğlu, in a speech to party lawmakers, presented documents he alleged were evidence of his claims that relatives of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had money abroad.

Turkey's ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party accused the main opposition leader of telling "lies", calling on him to present the documents in court to prove the claims.

Erdoğan rejected the allegations and vowed to resign if they were proved.

Yıldırım's comments came after he announced that Turkey had intercepted and deported over 50,000 foreign Daesh terrorists trying to enter the country.

Speaking at a meeting on public security and counter-terrorism at the Gendarmerie General Command in Ankara, the prime minister said that Turkey was the only country in the world that is waging a war against three different terrorist organizations at the same time.

Yıldırım noted that security forces have been taking and will continue to take all precautions to prevent the flow of terrorists.

In addition to the 50,000 Daesh terrorists caught and deported, Yıldırım said that thousands of others have also been detained in anti-terror operations.

The prime minister also said that the end of the PKK terrorist group's activities in Turkey was near.

Members of the gendarmerie, police, and security forces will continue to carry out their operations targeting PKK terrorists and destroy them, Yıldırım added.

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