Saturday, November 28, 2020

Daily removes op-ed claiming Turkey asked US to halt Halkbank probes in exchange for pastor Brunson

Must read

Turkey’s judicial council rewards judges and prosecutors for their role in gov’t-led prosecutions: report

Turkey’s Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) on Friday named 11 judges and prosecutors, many of whom played critical roles in government-led prosecutions, as...

‘We have to take measures,’ says Erdoğan as opposition questions COVID death toll

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday said his government was obliged to take measures in the face of skyrocketing COVID-19 infections in the...

NATO’s reform plan to make veto more difficult likely to be blocked by Turkey

NATO-appointed experts on Wednesday presented to the foreign ministers of member countries a plan on reforming the alliance, including a proposal to make it...

Belgium’s highest criminal court will convene over Facebook posts insulting Gülen-linked residents

A court in Belgium on November 16 referred 14 Belgians of Turkish descent to the country's highest criminal court over Facebook comments targeting residents...

The pro-government Hürriyet daily on Saturday removed from its website a column claiming that two separate investigations targeting Turkey’s Halkbank are being conducted in the US and that Ankara asked Washington to halt the investigations in exchange for the release of American pastor Andrew Brunson.

Cansu Çamlıbel, the paper’s Washington correspondent, wrote a detailed account of how the Turkish government and the Donald Trump administration negotiated a bargain over the release of Brunson, who had been jailed by Turkish legal authorities over alleged ties to the Gülen movement and the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

According to Çamlıbel, Ankara’s ask from the Trump administration concerned the case against Hakan Atilla, a former Halkbank executive who was convicted by a US court in January of conspiring to violate US sanctions on Iran through his position at the bank.

After the conclusion of the Atilla trial, observers were expecting that an exorbitant fine would be levied against Halkbank.

However, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan last year had publicly announced that in exchange for Pastor Brunson’s release, Turkey demanded the extradition of Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish Muslim cleric living in self-imposed exile in the US who is accused by Turkish authorities of masterminding a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, although he denies any involvement.

Çamlıbel claimed that Washington gave a green light to minimizing the fine on Halkbank and to sending Atilla to Turkey to serve out the remainder of his 32-month prison sentence.

According to Çamlıbel, Ankara insisted Washington halt two investigations targeting Halkbank, one by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which eventually imposed sanctions on two Turkish ministers over Brunson, and one by the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, which had conducted the Atilla investigation.

In the course of the bargain between the two allies, Çamlıbel argued that when President Trump saw the Turkish court decided to put pastor Brunson under house arrest instead of freeing him after Israel released and deported Ebru Özkan, a Turkish national charged with supporting terrorism, to Turkey due to a US request, he decided to burn the bridges between Washington and Ankara.

“At this point, it would be more difficult for Ankara to release pastor Brunson,” Çamlıbel wrote, adding that more sanctions on Turkey were ready to be signed by Trump.

She also stressed that misunderstandings between the parties occurred often since in addition to official conversations, back channels used by certain individuals between the two allies had created a polluted atmosphere for the bilateral relationship.

- Advertisement -

More articles

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisement -

Latest article

Turkey’s judicial council rewards judges and prosecutors for their role in gov’t-led prosecutions: report

Turkey’s Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) on Friday named 11 judges and prosecutors, many of whom played critical roles in government-led prosecutions, as...

‘We have to take measures,’ says Erdoğan as opposition questions COVID death toll

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday said his government was obliged to take measures in the face of skyrocketing COVID-19 infections in the...

NATO’s reform plan to make veto more difficult likely to be blocked by Turkey

NATO-appointed experts on Wednesday presented to the foreign ministers of member countries a plan on reforming the alliance, including a proposal to make it...

Belgium’s highest criminal court will convene over Facebook posts insulting Gülen-linked residents

A court in Belgium on November 16 referred 14 Belgians of Turkish descent to the country's highest criminal court over Facebook comments targeting residents...

4 detained in police raid of Kurdish party branch, other locations in eastern Turkey

Four people were detained when Turkish police raided the provincial office of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) and various other locations in the...