Mehmet Hakan Atilla gets 32-month sentence in Iran sanctions case

Atilla sentenced to 32 months in US prison over evading Iran sanctions

Atilla sentenced to 32 months in US prison over evading Iran sanctions

"I intend to impose a sentence here of 32 months of incarceration with credit for time already served", Berman announced of the sentence, which fell below the defense's calculations of sentencing guidelines of 46-57 months in prison.

The transactions violated U.S. Sanctions and were disguised as fraudulent gold and food transactions through Halkbank, prosecutors said.

At one point, an emotional defendant wiped his face with tissues as the judge read excerpts from 101 letters written by friends, family and work associates of Atilla describing the 47-year-old husband and father as a compassionate and religious man who frequently helped others. With this sentence, Atilla will be able to go back to Turkey next year.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Monday blasted the USA government for prosecuting Atilla, calling the case "a great injustice" and claiming the US case was based on evidence fabricated by followers Fetullah Gulen, a USA -based Muslin cleric who has also been blamed for the failed 2016 Turkish coup attempt.

Watched intensely from NY to Istanbul, the proceedings ended with a likewise extraordinary 32-month sentence, a prison term lower than what prosecutors or even defense attorneys requested.

Prosecutors believed that these sanctions violations helped Iran at the heart of negotiations over the nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

But the prosecutor's strong words did not match a voice and demeanor that were otherwise listless, and with good reason.

Judge Berman did not contest the gravity of the sanctions evasion plot.

However, Berman said before imposing his sentence that the evidence at trial showed Atilla was a minor player in the sanctions-dodging scheme, and "at times a reluctant one at that", largely following orders from his supervisor.


"If Hakan Atilla is going to be declared a criminal, that would be nearly equivalent to declaring the Turkish Republic a criminal", Erdogan said.

Berman's remarks echoed arguments that Atilla's defense attorney Victor Rocco made throughout last year's trial.

The judge said he thought that a life sentence would not be appropriate. He demanded Atilla be sent to his family and his country.

The trial, which ended in January, had featured testimony about corruption at the highest levels of the Turkish government.

A former Erdogan ally turned state enemy, Zarrab tendered an eleventh-hour guilty plea before trial that led to his dramatic testimony in NY.

"If Hakan Atilla is going to be declared a criminal, that would be nearly equivalent to declaring the Turkish Republic a criminal", he said.

Such testimony could have wide ramifications in Turkey if USA financial regulators slap Halkbank with a fine that can roil the country's economy.

Berman has ridiculed those theories in the past, and he said that letters that he received from regular Turkish people expressed confidence in USA justice.

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