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Turkey criticizes US arrests in Iran sanctions case

Associated Press logo Associated Press 30/03/2017
Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, left, walks with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, following their meeting in Ankara, Turkey, Thursday, March 30, 2017. Tillerson says the United States and Turkey must make "difficult decisions" about how to fight the Islamic State group in Syria. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis) © The Associated Press Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, left, walks with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, following their meeting in Ankara, Turkey, Thursday, March 30, 2017. Tillerson says the United States and Turkey must make "difficult decisions" about how to fight the Islamic State group in Syria. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey's foreign minister says a Turkish banker and a Turkish businessman arrested in the United States for allegedly helping Iran evade U.S. sanctions are the target of a politically motivated case.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says he expressed concerns while meeting U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Ankara on Thursday.

Cavusoglu says the case was opened by Preet Bharara, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. He says Bharara opposes the Turkish government.

Turkish businessman Reza Zarrab, who also has Iranian citizenship, pleaded not guilty after his March 2016 arrest in Miami. U.S. federal prosecutors say Turkish banker Mehmet Hakan Atilla was arrested Monday on charges he conspired with Zarrab and others to use the U.S. financial system to conduct transactions for Iran and Iranian entities.

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