Reza Zarrab accused of raping cellmate in Manhattan prison

Reza Zarrab is shown in this court room sketch with lawyer Marc Agnifilo as he appears in Manhattan fede

Reza Zarrab is shown in this court room sketch with lawyer Marc Agnifilo as he appears in Manhattan fede

Turkey has seized a private jet and a luxury yacht owned by Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab as part of the government's latest response to the businessman's guilty plea in a U.S. trial that implicated President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's close circle.

Turkish authorities have detained 17 people linked to Zarrab in an investigation launched after he cooperated with USA authorities and agreed to testify in the case.

Zarrab is testifying for USA prosecutors against an executive from Turkey's majority state-owned Halkbank who is accused of taking part in the scheme with Zarrab.

Asked if the suit was prompted by anyone seeking to embarrass or discredit Zarrab, Shacht said, "This has nothing to do with Turkey".

Zarrab has confessed to bribing USA prison guards in exchange for booze and cell phones. According to a transcript of sidebar conversations between the judge and lawyers, Atilla's defense lawyers considered confronting Zarrab on the witness stand with the accusations but decided against it. The U.S. Bureau of Prisons did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The inmate pleaded guilty in July to one count of conspiring to provide material support for a terrorist group and is awaiting sentencing in federal court.

Earlier on Thursday, a lawyer for Atilla, Cathy Fleming, sought through cross-examination to undermine Zarrab's credibility.

Since Zarrab became a witness, deputy chief executive of Turkish lender Halkbank Mehmet Hakan Atilla has become the lone defendant in the dock accused of violating sanctions, bribery and money laundering.

Zarrab has testified that he bribed Turkey's former economy minister and that Erdoğan approved of a scheme to help Iran avoid U.S. and United Kingdom sanctions. He said he had a "close relationship" with Suleyman Aslan, who was Halkbank's general manager and Atilla's superior until 2013.

Zarrab said he paid bribes to Aslan, repeating his testimony in direct examination, but never to Atilla. Prosecutors disclosed last week that Zarrab pled guilty in October to helping Iran avoid sanctions and bribing a guard.

On Thursday, Zarrab said that Turkish prosecutors' counteroffensive against him has claimed collateral damage for 18 people whom the Turkish government slapped with espionage charges. He said prosecutors told him he would not be charged for those crimes because they were outside US jurisdiction.

After Zarrab stepped down from the witness stand, prosecutors called a series of current and former USA law enforcement officers.

Zarrab has accused Turkish politicians, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of helping Iran evade USA sanctions.

On Thursday CNN Turk reported that Erdogan had said Turkey did not violate US sanctions.

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