Turkey's president says New York trial is US conspiracy

AP News
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Posted: Dec 05, 2017 7:11 PM

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."