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Turkey Seeks To Arrest Family Of Key Witness In U.S. Iran-Sanctions Case

This courtroom sketch Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab, second from left, explaining the scheme to circumvent Iran sanctions.

An Istanbul prosecutor has issued arrest warrants for the family of a former police investigator who recently provided crucial testimony for U.S. prosecutors in a high-profile Iran-sanctions case, according to Turkish state media.

Media reported on December 20 that the order to arrest Huseyin Korkmaz's parents came after he testified that he gave his mother documents related to his 2013 investigation into the same Iran-sanctions-evasion scheme alleged in the U.S. court case.

Turkey's Anadolu news agency reported that Istanbul prosecutors are also seeking to detain Kormaz's wife, older brother, and two sisters, but said police officers could not find them at their addresses.

Korkmaz, who testified in the U.S. trial that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other high-level Turkish officials were targets of his 2013 investigation, said that he gave many of the documents from his investigation to U.S. prosecutors after fleeing to the United States last year.

The case playing out in New York has strained U.S. relations with Erdogan, who has denounced it as "politically motivated" and aimed at bringing down his government.

Turkey called for Korkmaz's arrest earlier this month after he testified at the trial of Mehmet Hakan Atilla, a former executive of Turkish state-lender Halkbank who is accused of helping Iran evade U.S. sanctions.

U.S. prosecutors have accused Atilla of working with the accused mastermind of the sanctions-evasion scheme, Turkish-Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab, to launder $1 billion in Iranian oil and gas revenues through the U.S. banking system through fraudulent gold and food transactions.

Atilla has pleaded not guilty and Halkbank has denied involvement in any illegal transactions. But Zarrab has pleaded guilty and testified for the prosecution in the case earlier this month.

A jury in Manhattan started deliberating in the U.S. case on December 20, but had reached no verdict by the end of the day.

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters