NEW YORK (AP) — Turkey's president says the New York trial of a Turkish banker is a U.S. conspiracy being staged to "blackmail" and "blemish" his country.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (REH'-jehp TY'-ihp UR'-doh-wahn) spoke Tuesday in Ankara, Turkey. His comments came as the trial of Halkbank executive Mehmet Hakan Atilla continued in its second week.
Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab described criminal activities he was forced to divulge after he pleaded guilty to seven charges in October and became a government cooperator. His testimony likely will win him leniency at sentencing.
The defense says Atilla is "not corrupt."
Erdogan says the trial is a ploy to distract Turkey while Washington hatches plans to strengthen Syrian Kurdish groups Turkey considers to be terrorists.
U.S. prosecutors say claims the trial resulted from political maneuvering are "ridiculous."