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Turkish banker receives 32 months in prison in Iran



NEW YORK ̵

1; In a case that weighed on relations between the United States and Turkey, a judge sentenced a Turkish banker on Wednesday to slightly more than two and a half years in prison referrals, which he held for decades behind bars for what a prosecutor said was his role in overcoming the US economic sanctions against Iran aimed at preventing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

United States District Judge Richard M. Berman ordered Mehmet Hakan Atilla to spend 32 months in prison, including 14 months, following his arrest last year on a business trip to New York on behalf of his employer, the state-owned Halkbank in the Turkey, had spent. The punishment means that Atilla can return to Turkey in about a year.

A spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had labeled the trial, which ended in January, with Atilla's condemnation of five charges as a "scandalous verdict"

Atilla used his position as Halkbank's deputy general director of international banking to build and to protect a program that has been channeling billions of dollars in profits from Iranian oil sales through world financial markets since 2011.

"This is the largest sanction prosecution in the United States that we know," said US Attorney Michael Lockard.

Lockard said the sanction sanctioning process was "of monumental scope and momentous timing" in light of the negotiations aimed at making the nuclear targets a state sponsor of terrorism and preventing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East

"It's so serious that everyone is a victim of it," the prosecutor said.

In particular, the judge noted the feverish mood of some observers in the trial in Turkey when he promised to make a copy of the conviction available to the public later on Wednesday.

"Mr. Atilla was a kind of wheel in the wheel, as the defense suggests, and I would add, a somewhat reluctant," Berman said during a three-hour lawsuit in which the judge mainly explained how he chose the sentence. [19659016] The prison sentence was dramatically lower than the deadline recommended by US law enforcement agencies and the 20-year term required by prosecutors.

Berman said this was appropriate because the longer prison sentences recommended were "inappropriate, inappropriate and unfair".

At one point, an emotional defendant wiped his face with tissues as the judge reads excerpts from 101 letters described by Atilla's friends, family and work colleagues, describing the 47-year-old husband and father as a compassionate and religious man often helped others.

The judge said that Atilla falsely testified about his trial in some matters, but was unlikely to commit any new crimes, earned any profits directly from the scam and played a role in the m This was a less-long-term plan that was less than many others, including Turkish government officials and the Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab, who pleaded guilty and testified against Atilla.

The wealthy Zarrab, who was arrested a year before Atilla, initially drew considerable sums of attention to the case. He is married to the Turkish popstar and TV personality Ebru Gundes.

He testified that he donated over $ 50 million in bribes to the Turkish Minister of Finance after initially encountering the opposition of a Halkbank manager who feared he was "too popular" to carry out business on Iranian money without giving up to draw attention to them. Zarrab is waiting for his conviction.

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Associated Press Writer Tom Hays has contributed to this story.

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