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U.S. Prosecutor Drops Appeal To Extend Turkish Banker's Sentence - Anadolu

File Photo:Mehmet Hakan Atilla, a deputy general manager of Turkey's Halkbank
File Photo:Mehmet Hakan Atilla, a deputy general manager of Turkey's Halkbank
ANKARA, Dec 7 (Reuters)

New York prosecutors have withdrawn an appeal to extend the sentence of a former executive at Turkey's state-owned lender Halkbank, Turkey's state-owned Anadolu news agency said on Friday.

Halkbank shares rose nearly 4 percent after the report as market participants saw the move as further indication of an improvement in diplomatic ties between Washington and Ankara.

A U.S. court sentenced Hakan Atilla, an executive from Halkbank, to 32 months in prison in May for helping Iran evade U.S. sanctions in a case that has strained already tense ties between NATO allies Ankara and Washington.

Halkbank, which denies any wrongdoing, has since faced potential U.S. fines in relation to the case, which Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has condemned as a political attack against his government.

Anadolu, without citing sources, said the New York prosecutor's office had originally filed the appeal, saying the sentence was too short. It said the court had asked prosecutors to present details of the appeal by Dec. 6, but that the appeal had later been withdrawn.

No further details were immediately available and the New York prosecutor's office was not available for comment early on Friday.

Halkbank's dollar-denominated bonds jumped 0.74 cents to 84.70 cents after the report.

"It is good news that the U.S. prosecutor's office is not appealing to have the sentence prolonged or extended – it's a sign of improving relations between Turkey and the U.S.," said SEB's Per Hammarlund.

Last month, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said after talks with U.S. officials in Washington that the two sides had discussed returning Atilla to Turkey where he can serve the rest of his sentence.

Asked about Anadolu's report while speaking to reporters in Istanbul after Friday prayers, Erdogan said: "There are positive developments. I hope we get the results of our expectations."

Last month, Erdogan said he discussed the case of Halkbank with U.S. President Donald Trump, saying the talks were on a "positive path".