Turkish banker arrives in Istanbul after US jail release

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A former Turkish banking executive, who was released from a federal U.S. prison last week, arrived in Istanbul on July 24.

Turkish Airlines plane carrying Mehmet Hakan Atilla landed at Istanbul Airport at around 11.30 am local time (0830GMT) after it took off from the New York JFK International Airport.

Atila was welcomed at the airport by his family members; his wife Burçin, son Burkan, mother Ayşe and father Mehmet Işık as well as banking executives and state officials.

Turkish Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Mehmet Cahit Turhan, and General Manager of Halkbank Osman Arslan were among those, who welcomed Atilla.

“Our brother Hakan has arrived in the country safe and sound and has reunited with his family members,” Albayrak told reporters.

Diplomatic sources said that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held a phone conversation with Atilla after his arrival to express him and his family good wishes.

Atilla, 48, the former deputy director-general at Turkish state lender Halkbank, was sentenced in May 2018 in New York for violating U.S. sanctions on Iran.

However, the judge allowed the time he had served after being arrested a year earlier to be credited in the sentence, and his release on July 19 was announced earlier due to good behavior.

When Atilla was convicted, Turkey blasted the verdict as “a scandalous decision in a scandalous case” and “a conspiracy aimed at complicating Turkey’s internal politics and intervening in Turkey’s internal affairs”.

Atilla‘s arrest came after Turkish businessman Rıza Sarraf was arrested in 2016 in the U.S. for violating sanctions on Iran.

Cooperating with prosecutors, he gave testimony against Atilla which was used to convict the banker.

Hurriyet Daily News

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