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Turkish banker to be sentenced in US court, straining relations

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Turkish banker to be sentenced in US court, straining relations

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Photo: AA

Today, Hakan Atilla, a Turkish banker, will be sentenced for helping Iran evade sanctions. In January, Atilla was found guilty of five counts of conspiracy and bank fraud. Though the prosecution has requested a 15-year jail term, it remains unclear what sentence he will be handed.

Today’s sentencing will further fracture the already shaky US-Turkey relationship. Indeed, the US-based prosecution has alleged that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan greenlighted the evasion scheme, which has prompted Erdogan to hit back with accusations that Washington is hatching a plot to undermine his country’s reputation.

The strained relations are set to have a tangible effect on arms trade between the two countries. Last December, Ankara agreed to purchase advanced S-400 surface-to-air missiles from Russia—highly unusual for a NATO country. In response, Congress drafted a bill to restrict arms sales to Turkey last week.

With ties between the US and Turkey strained, and today’s sentencing likely to compound this, expect Moscow to deepen the rift by seeking closer engagement with Ankara.

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Photo: REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

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