January 4, 2018 / 3:57 PM / 19 days ago

Turkey to request extradition of witness in U.S. case against banker - state media

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish authorities have prepared an extradition request for a witness who testified in the U.S. case against a Turkish banker, state-run Anadolu news agency said on Thursday.

On Wednesday the jury in the U.S. case found the executive of Turkish state lender Halkbank guilty of helping Iran evade sanctions. The Turkish government called the verdict scandalous and unjust.

The witness, Huseyin Korkmaz, is a former police investigator who collected evidence against government officials in a 2013 corruption case, which included some of the same defendants as the trial now ending in the United States. Anadolu said Turkish authorities had also issued a warrant for his arrest.

Korkmaz was jailed in Turkey following the 2013 investigation. He was later released and fled to the United States, bringing the evidence he collected with him, he told jurors at the Manhattan court. He said he feared being tortured if he were returned to Turkey.

He also said he had received $50,000 (36,900 pounds) from the FBI and financial assistance from U.S. prosecutors.

Last month, Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul, in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, asked that Korkmaz be returned to Turkey, calling him “a fugitive, a terror suspect facing serious allegations”.

Turkish officials have also accused the judge overseeing the case and two U.S. attorneys involved, Kim H. Joon and Preet Bharara, of cooperating with U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen. Joon called the allegations ridiculous.

Ankara has described the 2013 corruption investigation and arrests as a “judicial coup” by Gulen supporters who had infiltrated the judiciary and police.

Ankara also blames Gulen for the coup attempt of July 2016, during which more than 240 people were killed. Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since 1999, denies involvement.

Since the abortive putsch, more than 50,000 people, including civil servants and security personnel, have been jailed pending trial and some 150,000 suspended or dismissed from their jobs, mostly on suspicion of links to terrorist groups.

Writing by Ali Kucukgocmen; editing by Ralph Boulton; Editing by David Dolan

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