Posts Tagged ‘President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’

Turkey denies offering money for US extradition of Erdogan rival

November 12, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Did Michael Flynn discuss expelling Gulen in exchange for a secret payout?

ANKARA (AFP) – Turkey has rejected as “ludicrous” allegations that it offered several million dollars to the United States to extradite a political rival to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

US media reported that investigators in Washington are probing whether former White House national security advisor Michael Flynn discussed expelling Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen in exchange for a secret payout.

Ankara blames Gulen’s movement for the July 15, 2016 failed coup against Erdogan, and has pressed for his extradition from the United States, where he has lived since 1999.

Gulen, who has a large Turkish following, strongly denies the charges.

“All allegations that Turkey would resort to means external to the rule of law for his extradition are utterly false, ludicrous and groundless”, Turkey’s embassy in Washington said on Twitter Saturday.

NBC News and the Wall Street Journal said Friday that US special prosecutor Robert Mueller is examining a meeting Flynn had with senior Turkish officials weeks after Donald Trump won the presidential race last year.

The meeting allegedly discussed a secret payout of up to $15 million dollars if, once in office, Flynn would engineer the deportation to Turkey of Gulen as well as help free Erdogan-linked Iranian-Turkish businessman Reza Zarrab from prison.

NBC and the Journal both cited multiple people familiar with the probe by Mueller, who is leading the investigation into whether members of Trump’s campaign colluded with Russian meddling in the election.

The Journal said it is not clear how far the proposal went and that there was no sign that any payments were made.

Lawyers for Flynn have labelled the allegations “outrageous” and “false”.

According to the two reports, the discussions included details of how Gulen could be flown secretly by private jet to the isolated Turkish prison island of Imrali.

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Mueller Probes Flynn’s Role in Alleged Plan to Deliver Cleric to Turkey

November 10, 2017

Under alleged plan, ex-Trump adviser and his son were to be paid millions to forcibly remove Fethullah Gulen from U.S. and deliver him to Turkish custody

WASHINGTON—Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating an alleged plan involving former White House National Security Adviser Mike Flynn to forcibly remove a Muslim cleric living in the U.S. and deliver him to Turkey in return for millions of dollars, according to people familiar with the investigation.

Under the alleged proposal, Mr. Flynn and his son, Michael Flynn Jr., were to be paid as much as $15 million for delivering Fethullah Gulen to the Turkish government, according to people with knowledge of discussions Mr. Flynn had with Turkish representatives. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has pressed the U.S. to extradite him, views the cleric as a political enemy.

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Federal Bureau of Investigation agents have asked at least four individuals about a meeting in mid-December at the ‘21’ Club in New York City, where Mr. Flynn and representatives of the Turkish government discussed removing Mr. Gulen, according to people with knowledge of the FBI’s inquiries. The discussions allegedly involved the possibility of transporting Mr. Gulen on a private jet to the Turkish prison island of Imrali, according to one of the people who has spoken to the FBI.

The investigation is being handled by Mr. Mueller as part of his probe of Trump campaign advisers and Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to those familiar with the investigation.

A spokesman for Mr. Mueller declined to comment.

The people who described the alleged proposal said they didn’t attend the December meeting and didn’t have direct knowledge from Mr. Flynn or his associates about its purported details. It isn’t clear how advanced Mr. Mueller’s investigation of the alleged plan to remove Mr. Gulen is, nor is there any indication that any money changed hands, according to those familiar with the discussions and the FBI investigation.

But federal investigators’ interest in whether Mr. Flynn was pursuing potentially illegal means to forcibly deal with Mr. Gulen indicates that the former Trump adviser faces another investigation stemming from his work on behalf of Turkish government interests, both before and after the presidential election.

A lawyer for Mr. Flynn declined to comment, as did a lawyer for Mr. Flynn Jr.

Before entering the Trump administration as the president’s national security adviser, Mr. Flynn was lobbying on behalf of Turkish interests in the U.S., including on the Gulen issue. He didn’t disclose that work until March of this year, after he was forced out of the White House for misleading Vice President Mike Pence and other White House officials about conversations he had with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. Mr. Flynn served as national security adviser for just 24 days.

He is now facing military, congressional and criminal investigations into allegations that he improperly concealed his financial ties to Turkey and Russia, and into whether the ties played any role in his decisions as the president’s adviser, The Wall Street Journal has previously reported.

One person familiar with the alleged discussions about Mr. Gulen said Mr. Flynn also was prepared to use his influence in the White House to further the legal extradition of the cleric, who lives in Pennsylvania.

Turkey has pressed the U.S. to extradite Fethullah Gulen, who lives in a compound in Saylorsburg, Pa.Photo: Sasha Maslov for The Wall Street Journal

Mr. Gulen’s legal residency in the U.S. became a major irritant in American and Turkish relations during the Obama administration, and Turkish officials pressed for Mr. Gulen’s extradition so that he could face charges. Mr. Erdogan’s government has accused the cleric of masterminding a failed coup and have called him and his supporters a terrorist network. Mr. Gulen denies both accusations.

The alleged meeting in New York in December, which came after Mr. Flynn was tapped as national security adviser, was a follow-up to an earlier discussion, on Sept. 19, where Turkish officials first raised the possibility of forcibly removing Mr. Gulen. That September meeting, held in a hotel room and attended by former CIA Director James Woolsey, was reported earlier by the Journal.

In an exclusive WSJ interview, former CIA Director James Woolsey describes a meeting where Mike Flynn and others discussed a covert plan to move Fethullah Gulen back to Turkey and avoid the U.S. extradition process. (March 27, 2017)

Mr. Gulen’s removal was discussed as “a covert step in the dead of night to whisk this guy away,” according to Mr. Woolsey, who said he attended the meeting at the request of one of Mr. Flynn’s business associates.

Also present at the September meeting were Mr. Erdogan’s son-in-law and Turkey’s foreign minister, foreign-lobbying disclosure documents show. The Turkish Embassy has previously acknowledged that Turkish officials met with Mr. Flynn but declined to discuss the conversation.

A White House spokesman deferred all questions to a spokesman for the Trump transition process.

“We don’t have any evidence that such a meeting took place,” that spokesman said, referring to the December meeting. “And if it did it take place it happened not withstanding the transition.”

At the time the plan was discussed, Turkey had been lobbying Obama administration officials for months to release Mr. Gulen to Turkish custody and wanted to avoid a legal extradition proceeding, according to a former official with direct knowledge of Turkish and American discussions. The Obama administration rebuffed those requests, the official said.

In Mr. Flynn, the Turks found a more sympathetic ear. Mr. Flynn wrote an op-ed published in The Hill on the day of the presidential election in which he praised Mr. Erdogan’s government and called the cleric “a shady Islamic mullah” and “radical Islamist” who may be running “a dangerous sleeper terror network” in the U.S.

“We should not provide him safe haven,” Mr. Flynn wrote.

Mr. Woolsey said he informed the U.S. government about the September meeting by notifying Vice President Joe Biden through a mutual friend.

The mutual friend confirmed to the Journal that he told Mr. Biden about the meeting. Mr. Biden’s spokeswoman declined to comment on the matter, other than to say Mr. Biden felt the Gulen matter should be handled through the courts.

Mr. Woolsey, who served briefly as an adviser to the Trump campaign, said he turned down a consulting fee from Mr. Flynn’s company because of what he heard at the meeting.

Federal records show that the company, Flynn Intel Group, was paid $530,000 for advocacy work that “could be construed to have principally benefited the Republic of Turkey.”

Federal investigators are currently looking at whether Mr. Flynn’s work on behalf of Turkey violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which requires people to disclose when they are acting in the U.S. on behalf of foreign powers, according to people with knowledge of the investigation.

Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, has been indicted by the special counsel on charges stemming from his work for the former government of Ukraine, which he didn’t properly disclose to U.S. authorities, according to federal charges disclosed last month. Mr. Manafort’s attorney has entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf.

The Journal reported in March that Mr. Flynn had sought immunity from investigators probing Russia’s interference in the presidential election in exchange for his testimony. Mr. Flynn’s attorney, Robert Kelner, wouldn’t comment at the time on details of his discussions involving Mr. Flynn, but said “General Flynn certainly has a story to tell, and he very much wants to tell it, should the circumstances permit.”

Mr. Flynn, who was fired in 2014 as the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, is a central figure in the sprawling special counsel investigation, which is examining whether Trump campaign or business associates coordinated with the Russian government in its efforts to steal private emails from political groups and campaigns and expose them publicly. Mr. Flynn’s contacts with the then-Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, have been scrutinized as part of that probe, according to people with knowledge of the investigation.

President Trump has denied that his campaign colluded with Russia. The Russians have consistently denied interfering in the election.

Write to Shane Harris at shane.harris@wsj.com and Aruna Viswanatha at Aruna.Viswanatha@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/mueller-probes-flynns-role-in-alleged-plan-to-deliver-cleric-to-turkey-1510309982

Trial of Turkey opposition daily staff resumes

October 31, 2017

AFP

© AFP / by Fulya OZERKAN | Protesters are demanding ‘justice for Cumhuriyet’
ISTANBUL (AFP) – The controversial trial resumed Tuesday of staff from Turkey’s main opposition daily on terror-related charges, in a case seen as a test for media freedom under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Prosecutors accuse 17 current and former writers, cartoonists and executives from Cumhuriyet (“Republic”) of supporting terror groups, charges lambasted by the defence as absurd.

Four of the suspects remain behind bars, with the others now free but still on trial and risking heavy jail sentences if convicted.

Dozens of supporters gathered outside the court in Istanbul, unfurling banners saying: “Stop hunting the opposition and arresting journalists” and “justice for Cumhuriyet”.

The 17 are charged with supporting through their coverage three groups Turkey views as terror groups — the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the ultra-left Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), and the movement of preacher Fethullah Gulen blamed by Ankara for last year’s failed coup.

The defendants risk up to 43 years in prison if convicted.

The court in July freed seven of the daily’s staff after 271 days behind bars, including respected cartoonist Musa Kart and Turhan Gunay, editor of the books supplement.

And one of Turkey’s most respected journalists Kadri Gursel was released last month after spending nearly a year in jail.

Those remaining under arrest include the paper’s chairman Akin Atalay and editor-in-chief Murat Sabuncu, who have been held for 366 days.

– 170 journalists behind bars –

Investigative reporter Ahmet Sik, who has been held for 305 days, as well as accountant Emre Iper, detained for 208 days, also remain under arrest.

Sik wrote a book exposing the past ties of members of the Turkish elite to the Gulen movement.

According to the P24 press freedom group, there are 170 journalists behind bars in Turkey, most of whom were arrested after the coup bid. Turkey ranks 155 out of 180 on the latest Reporters Without Borders (RSF) world press freedom index.

Since last July’s coup bid, over 50,000 people have been arrested during the state of emergency over alleged Gulen links but opposition media and pro-Kurdish activists have also been caught up in the crackdown. Gulen denies any links to the coup bid.

The trial also resumed Tuesday of celebrated Turkish novelist Asli Erdogan in which she is accused of “terror propaganda” for the PKK on account of her work to the now shut down pro-Kurdish newspaper Ozgur Gundem.

Erdogan — no relation of the president — faces life in prison if convicted but was released from pre-trial detention in December last year. She is not expected to attend the hearing.

by Fulya OZERKAN

Turkey court orders local Amnesty chief to stay behind bars

October 26, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File / by Raziye AKKOC | Protesters hold a banner reading “Free rights defenders” outside the courthouse in Istanbul where rights activists went on trial on Wednesday, including the two top figures with Amnesty International in Turkey.

ANKARA (AFP) – A Turkish court in Izmir ordered the head of Amnesty International in Turkey to remain in pre-trial detention on Thursday, the rights group said, after he denied allegations of links to the Muslim cleric Ankara blames for last year’s failed coup.

Taner Kilic was detained in June over claims he was a member of the group led by US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen, who is accused of ordering the attempted overthrow of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The latest hearing in Izmir in western Turkey comes a day after Kilic also went on trial in another case along with 10 rights activists, including Amnesty’s Turkey director Idil Eser, who were detained in July on contested terror charges after holding a workshop on an island off Istanbul.

While Kilic is voluntary chairman of Amnesty’s board of directors handling administrative affairs, Eser is in charge of day-to-day business including Amnesty Turkey’s campaigns for human rights.

Eser and seven others were freed for the duration of their trial after the first hearing in Istanbul on Wednesday on charges of “aiding” an armed terror group. Two others had been released earlier.

They are accused of links to Gulen and other outlawed groups including the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged an insurgency inside Turkey since 1984, and the far-left Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C).

Amnesty said Kilic’s case in Izmir will be merged with the 10 activists’ case in Istanbul.

“The release of the Istanbul 10 late last night restored some faith in Turkey’s justice system. Today, that faith has been washed away,” Amnesty secretary-general Salil Shetty said.

Prosecutors claim Kilic was aware of preparations for the Istanbul workshop.

Erdogan said in July that the activists were detained after a tip-off they were working against the government, comparing them to those involved in the failed putsch.

– ‘No concrete evidence’ –

“There are inconcrete and unclear accusations in the indictment, and there is no concrete evidence” to prove links to Gulen, Kilic was quoted as saying in court by Amnesty Turkey’s official Twitter account.

“It is essential that there is a presumption of innocence,” he said.

“Statements by the authorities have affected my right to a fair trial.”

Kilic also accused the authorities of trying him because of his work with Amnesty, the group said.

Turkish authorities claim Kilic had an encrypted messaging application on his phone in August 2014 called Bylock, which they allege was created especially for Gulen supporters.

Thousands of people have been detained across Turkey on suspicion of using the app.

Kilic also had a bank account with the Gulen-linked Bank Asya, but Amnesty previously said it was “clearly impossible to infer membership of an organisation, let alone sympathy for its purported criminal aims, from the opening of an account”.

Amnesty said the Turkish authorities have not presented “credible evidence to substantiate” the claims that he had also downloaded ByLock.

– ‘First sign of detente’ –

The next hearing of the 11 human rights activists — including a German and a Swedish national — in Istanbul will be on November 22.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel welcomed the release of German activist, Peter Steudtner, in what he described as the “first sign of detente” following the bitter row between Ankara and Berlin over the arrest of Germans in Turkey.

The Swedish foreign ministry said Swede Ali Gharavi’s release was “obviously positive”.

burs-raz/fo/dcr/boc

by Raziye AKKOC

EU considers reducing $5bn accession aid to Turkey

October 21, 2017

BBC News

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Turkish riot policemen detain protesters during the trial of Nuriye Gulmen and Semih Ozakcain in front of Ankara Courthouse
The EU has become increasingly critical of Turkey’s human rights record. Credit EUROPEAN PHOTOPRESS AGENCY

The EU is considering cuts to the aid that it gives Turkey after German Chancellor Angela Merkel put the issue on the summit agenda in Brussels.

She linked the move to Western criticisms of Turkey’s rights record.

“We have huge concerns,” she said, referring to the mass arrests in Turkey since President Recep Tayyip Erdogan quelled a coup attempt in June 2016.

As a candidate to join the EU, Turkey is receiving 4.5bn euros (£4bn; $5.3bn) in aid from the EU in 2014-2020.

The aid is aimed at raising Turkey’s public institutions to EU standards, including the judiciary, but there is also aid for education, training, infrastructure and agriculture.

It is separate from the EU funding that Turkey gets to help more than three million refugees on its soil, most of them Syrians who fled their country’s devastating war.

On that score, Mrs Merkel said, “Turkey is doing a great job.”

“We have promised 3bn euros for the coming years in addition to the 3bn that we have already committed. We need to deliver on this promise.”

The EU sees that aid as vital to keep Turkey committed to a 2016 deal to stop boatloads of migrants and refugees entering the EU via Greece.

Turkey’s negotiations for EU membership are frozen but Mrs Merkel resisted strong pressure within Germany to break off the talks.

Austria’s election winner and likely new chancellor, the conservative Sebastian Kurz, is among those calling for Turkey’s membership bid to be abandoned.

“We asked the [EU] Commission to think again about the accession help that Turkey gets,” Mrs Merkel told reporters late on Thursday.

EU divisions over how to handle Turkey were reflected in the non-committal summit statement: “The European Council held a debate on relations with Turkey.”

For months Turkey has traded angry rhetoric with German politicians because of Berlin’s criticism of its human rights record.

A number of Germans are among the thousands of journalists, academics and civil society activists arrested in Mr Erdogan’s post-coup crackdown.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-41692951

Syria demands ‘immediate’ withdrawal of Turkey troops

October 14, 2017

AFP

© AFP | A picture taken on October 14, 2017, shows Turkish army diggers on a hill in the Syrian border town of Salwah

DAMASCUS (AFP) – Syria on Saturday demanded the “immediate and unconditional withdrawal” of Turkish troops that have deployed in the country’s northwestern province of Idlib, state media said citing a foreign ministry source.

 Turkish troops entered Idlib on Thursday night as part of efforts to enforce a so-called “de-escalation zone” agreed by rebel backer Ankara and regime allies Russia and Iran at talks in Astana earlier this year.

But the Syrian foreign ministry source slammed the “Turkish aggression”, saying it had “nothing whatsoever to do with the understandings reached by the guarantor countries in the Astana process.”

The source added that the deployment was “a violation of these understandings and a departure from them.”

“The Turkish regime must abide by what was agreed in Astana.”

Turkey’s military said Friday it had begun “activities to establish observation posts on October 12”, days after Turkish troops launched a reconnaissance mission in Idlib.

On Friday, Turkey’s Hurriyet daily reported over 100 soldiers including special forces, and 30 armoured vehicles, had entered Idlib.

And a new convoy entered on Saturday, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor.

The province is largely controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a group led by Al-Qaeda’s former Syria affiliate, which has ousted more moderate rebels in recent months.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkish troops had entered Syria with the Free Syrian Army, the name Ankara uses for rebels seeking Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s ouster.

Turkey says it is backing Syrian rebels in a bid to oust HTS members in the area and allow Iranian, Russian and Turkish forces to implement the zone.

The “de-escalation” zone in Idlib is the one of four agreed in Astana and the last to be implemented, after.

Idlib is one of the last major areas of Syria beyond the control of the government, which has recaptured vast swathes of territory from opposition fighters since its ally Russia intervened on its behalf in September 2015.

Turkey has intervened in Syria before, last year launching its operation Euphrates Shield targeting the Islamic State group and Kurdish fighters.

More than 330,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011 with anti-government protests.

Don’t isolate Turkey, warn writers caught in crackdown — “Pushing Turkey to Russia and Iran is not a smart idea.”

October 13, 2017

AFP

© AFP / by Michelle FITZPATRICK | “Pushing Turkey to Russia and Iran is not a smart idea,” Can Dundar says
FRANKFURT AM MAIN (AFP) – Thinking back to his months in an Istanbul prison last year, Turkish journalist Can Dundar recalls a fellow inmate asking a guard for a book from the prison library.

“We don’t have the book, but we have the author,” came the reply.

The anecdote, told with a wry smile during a roundtable discussion at the Frankfurt book fair, exemplifies Turkey’s crackdown on freedom of expression in the wake of last year’s failed coup.

Among the more than 50,000 people arrested since then are some 180 journalists, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has faced fierce criticism from the West over the repression.

But Dundar — seated next to celebrated Turkish novelist Asli Erdogan, herself held for four months on “terror propaganda” charges — urged European governments not to turn their backs on Turkey as the rift with Erdogan widens.

“Isolating Turkey means supporting Erdogan, not us,” Dundar told the audience. “Pushing Turkey to Russia and Iran is not a smart idea.”

Millions of Turks voted against granting Erdogan sweeping new powers in last April’s controversial referendum, he added.

And recent opinion polls had shown a drop in support for the veteran Turkish leader, who first came to power in 2002.

“At least half the country now is resisting, suffering and struggling at the same time,” the former editor-in-chief of the Cumhuriyet opposition newspaper said.

– ‘Not Erdogan’s Turkey’ –

The roundtable talk was one of a series of events at this year’s book fair, the publishing industry’s top annual showcase, to shine a spotlight on press freedom in Turkey.

Earlier this week jailed Turkish investigative reporter Ahmet Sik received an award in absentia for courageous journalism, and supporters of Germany’s Die Welt correspondent Deniz Yucel called for his release under the banner #FreeDeniz.

Award-winning novelist Burhan Sonmez, the third participant in Thursday’s discussion in the western German city of Frankfurt, said he had recently returned to live in Istanbul after spending a decade in Britain.

He said dissenting voices live under a cloud of fear in Turkey.

“You don’t know what’s going to happen the next morning. You could be at work or in prison,” he said.

But it was also what spurred him on. “You have to speak, you have to write. Because you could be next.”

“Erdogan believes that Turkey belongs to him, but Turkey belongs to us,” he went on. “We are the cultural, social life.”

Dundar, who fled to Germany after being sentenced to a near six-year jail term for revealing state secrets, described a constant cat-and-mouse game with Turkish authorities in a bid to circumvent restrictions and reach readers.

“Since the media is controlled by the government we need to find new ways to express ourselves and give voice to the voiceless.

“Thank God people in Turkey know how to reach censored websites,” the bespectacled 56-year-old added.

– Not forgotten –

Asli Erdogan, 50, who was freed in December pending trial but only saw her passport returned to her last month, said however it was “too easy to blame everything on Erdogan”, pointing to Turkey’s fractured opposition.

“The Armenian issue, the Kurdish issue, these are faultlines that break the opposition. We can’t form a strong barrier against Erdogan and his tyranny because of these faultlines.”

Dundar and Asli Erdogan both pleaded for more solidarity with the writers being detained — not just with words but with action.

“We have to tell them we haven’t forgotten about them,” said Erdogan, whose next court date in the trial over her links to a pro-Kurdish newspaper is on October 31. She faces a lifetime behind bars if convicted.

Dundar — who was arrested after publishing an article accusing Turkish intelligence services of trafficking arms to Syria — urged journalists around the world to pick up the baton and follow up on “the banned stories, the censored stories”.

That would show the detained reporters they were being supported, he said.

“And to the government it would send the message: If you touch a journalist, you only make the story bigger.”

by Michelle FITZPATRICK

Turkey urges U.S. to review visa suspension as lira, stocks tumble

October 9, 2017

Image result for Ankara, stock market, photos

FILE photo

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey urged the United States on Monday to review its suspension of visa services after the arrest of a U.S. consulate employee sharply escalated tensions between the two NATO allies and drove Turkey’s currency and stocks lower.

Relations between Ankara and Washington have long been plagued by disputes over U.S. support for Kurdish fighters in Syria, Turkey’s calls for the extradition of a U.S.-based cleric and the indictment of a Turkish former minister in a U.S. court.

But last week’s arrest of a Turkish employee of the U.S. consulate in Istanbul marked a fresh low. Turkey said the employee had links to U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, blamed by Ankara for a failed military coup in July 2016.

The U.S. embassy in Ankara condemned those charges as baseless and announced on Sunday night it was halting all non-immigrant visa services in Turkey while it reassessed Turkey’s commitment to the security of its missions and staff.

Within hours Turkey announced it was taking the same measures against U.S. citizens.

On Monday the Turkish foreign ministry summoned a U.S. diplomat to urge the United States to lift the visa suspension, saying it was causing “unnecessary tensions”.

Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul said that if Washington had serious security concerns about its missions in Turkey, steps would be taken to address them.

“But if it’s an issue regarding the arrest of the consulate employee, then this is a decision the Turkish judiciary has made,” Gul told A Haber television. “Trying a Turkish citizen for a crime committed in Turkey is our right.”

Turkish media reported that authorities had issued a detention warrant for a second U.S. consulate worker. Reuters could not immediately confirm the reports, which also said the employee’s wife and child were being questioned by police.

INVESTORS RATTLED

The diplomatic spat spooked investors. The lira dropped 2.4 percent and stood at 3.7030 against the dollar after being quoted overnight as touching a level of 3.9223.

A woman waits in front of the visa application office entrance of the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, October 9, 2017. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

The main BIST 100 stock index fell as much as 4.7 percent and was down 3.21 percent at 100,800 points at 1137 GMT.

Airline shares were particularly hard hit, with flag carrier Turkish Airlines falling 8 percent.

The central bank said it was following developments closely.

A woman walks past the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, October 9, 2017. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

“This looks like a really serious situation,” said Blue Bay Asset Management strategist Timothy Ash, adding that the central bank would need to move quickly to calm market nerves and possibly hike interest rates – something President Tayyip Erdogan has resisted.

Turkey’s leading business association, TUSIAD, warned that the dispute would harm bilateral economic, social and cultural ties, and called for disagreements to be settled calmly.

The dispute with the United States coincides with deep strains in Turkey’s relations with Germany, another key ally, and with Turkish military activity at the Syrian and Iraqi borders, though their market impact has so far been limited.

U.S.-Turkish tensions have risen in recent months over U.S. military support for Kurdish YPG fighters in Syria, considered by Ankara to be an extension of the banned PKK which has waged an insurgency for three decades in southeast Turkey.

Turkey has also pressed, so far in vain, for the United States to extradite Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, viewed in Ankara as the mastermind behind the failed coup in which more than 240 people were killed. Gulen denies any involvement.

Friction with the United States has also arisen from the indictment last month by a U.S. court of Turkey’s former economy minister Zafer Caglayan, charged with conspiring to violate U.S. sanctions on Iran.

Sinan Ulgen, an analyst and former Turkish diplomat, said those underlying disputes had created a “crisis of confidence” which made this latest fallout particularly bitter.

“This harshness is a result of a build-up,” he said. “We should not consider this as solely a reaction to the detentions of consulate employees”.

Additional reporting by Can Sezer in Istanbul and Gulsen Solaker in Ankara; Writing by Dominic Evans; Editing by Daren Butler and Gareth Jones

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Turkish Lira Tumbles in Asia Witching Hour as Tensions Escalate

October 9, 2017

Bloomberg

By Michael Wilson and  Netty Idayu Ismail

 
  • Lack of volume was behind Monday’s price decline: Saxo Capital
  • Currency heads for its longest losing streak since May 2016

Traders scrambled Monday morning as Turkey’s lira plunged, turning off live platform pricing and restricting quotes amid volatility caused by rising tensions between the U.S. and its NATO ally.

As politics pushed the lira to a record low against a basket of currencies including the euro and the dollar, requests for quotes on “show side only” basis were flashing, according to traders familiar with the transaction who asked not to be identified because they aren’t authorized to speak publicly.

 Image result for Turkish lira, photos

The currency market has faced bouts of extreme volatility during early Asian trading hours, including the pound’s flash crash a year ago as well as the South African rand’s plunge in January 2016. While the lira is a volatile developing-nation currency with thinner trading, Monday’s decline is a reminder of the underlying fragility of the $5.1 trillion-a-day foreign exchange market.

“Almost certainly the liquidity is a significant issue in the price action,” said Andrew Bresler, deputy head of sales trading for Asia Pacific at Saxo Capital Markets Ltd. in Singapore. “This is always the problem with negative news events in early Asia trading timezone. Fewer market participants will exacerbate the move.”

Read More: What has happened in Asia’s witching hours

The trigger on Monday was the U.S. and Turkey each suspending visa services for citizens looking to visit the other country. Both sides said “recent events” had forced them to “reassess the commitment” of the other to the security of mission facilities and personnel. The moves followed the arrest of a Turkish national who works at the U.S. consulate in Istanbul for alleged involvement in the July 2016 coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The lira was at 3.7175 per dollar as of 11:47 a.m. in Singapore, down more than 2.5 percent from Friday’s close, and touched as low as 3.8533. The currency is heading for a seventh day of declines, the longest stretch since May 2016.

As news broke that the spat between Turkey and the U.S. had intensified, the bid/offer spread in prices offered by interbank market makers blew out to 60 times the average, highlighting the costs of doing business in emerging-market FX.

Read More: How liquidity gap drove cost of lira trades up 60 times

The latest escalation of tensions also coincides with the headwind that emerging-market assets have been facing amid prospects of tighter monetary policy by the Federal Reserve.

Emerging-market currency volatility has climbed since reaching an almost three-year low in August, and exceeded expected fluctuations in developed-nation peers last week for the first time since July, JPMorgan Chase & Co. indexes show.

“Politically, Turkey’s case is an isolated case so it’s unlikely that there will be a durable contagion into the rest of EM,” said Nader Naeimi, who heads a dynamic investment fund at AMP Capital Investors Ltd. in Sydney and holds a short position in developing-nation currencies including the lira. “However, the short-term impact to sentiment across EM FX is a strong possibility at a time where foreign currency markets will continue to be forced to adjust their expectations of U.S. rate hikes.”

— With assistance by Lilian Karunungan, Garfield Clinton Reynolds, and Benjamin Robertson

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-09/turkish-lira-tumbles-in-asia-witching-hour-as-tensions-escalate

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Turkish coup plotters sentenced to life in prison

October 4, 2017

AFP

© Bulent Kilic, AFP | People accused of trying to assassinate the Turkish President during the July coup attempt are escorted by security forces towards a courthouse in western Turkey on February 20, 2017.

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2017-10-04

A Turkish court on Wednesday handed life sentences to 34 people for plotting to assassinate President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a luxury Aegean hotel during last year’s failed coup.

The 34 were given four life sentences each at the trial in the southwestern city of Mugla, state-run TRT Haber television said.

The group includes former brigadier general Gokhan Sahin Sonmezates, who was accused of directing the plot.

The trial began on February 20 and is one of many such processes taking place across Turkey to try those who allegedly plotted the failed bid to oust Erdogan on July 15, 2016.

Some verdicts have already been handed out in lower-profile cases but it is the first ruling involving top plotters.

The failed coup left 249 people dead, not including the putschists, and the authorities have vowed no compromise in bringing those involved to justice.

Turkey accuses Pennsylvania-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen of orchestrating the attempted coup. Gulen, a former Erdogan ally turned arch-foe, strongly denies Ankara’s claims.

Erdogan has said the assassination plot left him minutes from death after he fled the resort in Marmaris, where he had been holidaying with his family, and went back to Istanbul by plane.

Some Erdogan supporters had called for the plotters to face the death penalty, which Turkey abolished in 2004 as part of its bid to join the European Union.