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Turkish banker released from US prison

July 20, 2019

Mehmet Hakan Atilla was arrested in 2017 after a witness said he helped organize a multi-billion dollar scheme to bypass US oil sanctions against Iran. The case had implicated Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

A photo shows the logo of the Turkish Halkbank
Image: Getty Images/AFP/O. Kose

A Turkish banker convicted of trying to help bypass US sanctions on Iranian oil has been released from prison in Philadelphia.

The US Federal Bureau of Prisons confirmed Mehmet Hakan Atilla had been released on Friday. Atilla's lawyer told the Agence France-Presse news agency that US immigration authorities were scheduled to deport him to Turkey.

The former executive of Turkish state lender Halkbank was sentenced to 32 months in prison in May 2018 on charges of bank fraud and conspiracy relating to a multi-billion dollar oil-for-gold scheme.

The court handed down a lower sentence than prosecutors had demanded because they accepted his argument that he had taken orders from Halkbank's director general.

The case implicated Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other senior political figures after a witness said Erdogan approved Halkbank's involvement in the scheme.

Erdogan has repeatedly denied involvement and accused his political opponents of trying to undermine him.

amp/jlw (dpa, AFP)

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