US pros­e­cu­tor re­jects longer sen­tence for for­mer Turk­ish banker

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Politics -

A FOR­MER Turk­ish banker serv­ing time in the United States will fin­ish out his 32-month sen­tence, but no longer, said the top U.S. pros­e­cu­tor in New York late on Thurs­day.

A bid for a tougher sen­tence for Hakan Atilla, for­mer deputy CEO of Turk­ish state lender Halk­bank, was re­jected by the U.S. at­tor­ney for the South­ern Dis­trict of New York.

Atilla was sen­tenced this May to 32 months in prison in the U.S. for vi­o­lat­ing sanc­tions on Iran in a case that has strained al­ready tense ties be­tween NATO al­lies Ankara and Washington.

“The Gov­ern­ment’s No­tice of Ap­peal in the... cross-ap­peal, filed on June 25, 2018, is hereby dis­missed with prej­u­dice,” said a state­ment by U.S. At­tor­ney Ge­of­frey S. Ber­man.

Atilla, cur­rently serv­ing out his sen­tence in a fed­eral prison in the state of Penn­syl­va­nia, is set for re­lease on July 25, 2019.

Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan has crit­i­cized Atilla’s con­vic­tion, call­ing it “po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated.”

Last month, Turk­ish For­eign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said af­ter talks with U.S. of­fi­cials in Washington that the two sides had dis­cussed re­turn­ing Atilla to Tur­key where he can serve the rest of his sen­tence.

Er­doğan also said last month that he had dis­cussed the case of Halk­bank with U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, say­ing the talks were on a “pos­i­tive path.” He said, with­out elab­o­rat­ing, that Trump had told him “he would in­struct the rel­e­vant of­fi­cials im­me­di­ately” re­gard­ing the case.

The NATO al­lies re­main di­vided on a host of other is­sues, in­clud­ing U.S. pol­icy in Syria and Washington’s sup­port for the PKK ter­ror­ist group’s Syr­ian af­fil­i­ate, the Peo­ple’s Pro­tec­tion Units (YGP). In ad­di­tion, there is Tur­key’s re­quest for the U.S. to ex­tra­dite Fe­tul­lah Gülen, the leader of the Gülenist Ter­ror Group (FETÖ), which at­tempted to over­throw the gov­ern­ment through a coup on July 15, 2016. Dur­ing the failed coup at­tempt, 251 peo­ple were killed and nearly 2,200 peo­ple were in­jured.

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