Istanbul Chief Prosecutor's Office launches probe into Zarrab case attorneys

Former U.S. attorney Preet Bharara is the subject of a probe by Turkey's government

Turkish prosecutors launched an investigation Saturday of two USA prosecutors involved in putting a Turkish-Iranian businessman on trial for allegedly violating US sanctions against Iran, according to Turkey's official news agency.

Istanbul Chief Prosecutor's Office has launched a probe into New York's Preet Bharara, former U.S. Attorney in-charge of the jailed Iranian-Turkish gold trader Reza Zarrab's case, and Joon H. Kim, Acting U.S. Attorney, on November 18 over evidence used in trial of Turkish citizens. The actions "openly violate" worldwide and domestic Turkish law, the prosecutor said.

When asked for comment, Bharara referred Reuters to the Southern District of New York's Attorney's Office.

The case against the wealthy, Iran-born gold trader Reza Zarrab has complicated already strained relations between the USA and Turkey, both members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation military alliance.

He is widely known in Turkey, as his name was embroiled in the December 2013 graft operations that involved four former ministers and other state officials.

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Preet Bharara under investigation by Turkey: report

Former Turkish Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan is also among the nine defendants indicted in the case. Under a previous Turkish investigation that became public in 2013, Turkish prosecutors accused Zarrab and high-ranking Turkish officials of involvement in facilitating Iranian money transfers via gold smuggling, leaked documents at the time showed.

Turkish officials have accused Bharara of links to USA -based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey blames for last summer's failed coup.

Bharara has vehemently rejected the allegation. Several prosecutors were removed from the case, police investigators were reassigned, and the investigation was later dropped.

Since the July 2016 coup attempt, Turkey has arrested more than 50,000 people and fired over 100,000 state workers for alleged links to Gulen's network.

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