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Turkish banker arrives in Istanbul after US jail release

A former Turkish banking executive Mehmet Hakan Atilla (Front L), who was released from a federal US prison last week, is welcomed by a relative after arriving at Istanbul Airport in Istanbul, Turkey on 24 July 2019. [Muhammed Enes Yıldırım - Anadolu Agency]
A former Turkish banking executive Mehmet Hakan Atilla (Front L), who was released from a federal US prison last week, is welcomed by a relative after arriving at Istanbul Airport in Istanbul, Turkey on 24 July 2019. [Muhammed Enes Yıldırım - Anadolu Agency]

A former Turkish banking executive, who was released from a federal US prison last week, arrived in Istanbul on Wednesday, Anadolu reports.

A Turkish Airlines plane carrying Mehmet Hakan Atilla landed at Istanbul Airport at around 11:30 a.m. local time (0830GMT) after it took off from the New York JFK International Airport.

Atilla was welcomed at the airport by his family members; his wife Burcin, son Burkan, mother Ayse and father Mehmet Isik as well as banking executives and state officials.

Turkish Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Mehmet Cahit Turhan, and General Manager of Halkbank Osman Arslan were among those, who welcomed Atilla.

“Our brother Hakan has arrived in the country safe and sound and has reunited with his family members,” Albayrak told reporters.

READ: US seeks about 20 years prison for Turkish banker in Iran sanctions case 

Diplomatic sources said that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held a phone conversation with Atilla after his arrival to express him and his family good wishes.

Atilla, 48, the former deputy director-general at Turkish state lender Halkbank, was sentenced in May 2018 in New York for violating US sanctions on Iran.

However, the judge allowed the time he had served after being arrested a year earlier to be credited in the sentence, and his release on July 19 was announced earlier due to good behavior.

When Atilla was convicted, Turkey blasted the verdict as “a scandalous decision in a scandalous case” and “a conspiracy aimed at complicating Turkey’s internal politics and intervening in Turkey’s internal affairs”.

Atilla’s arrest came after Turkish businessman Riza Sarraf was arrested in 2016 in the US for violating sanctions on Iran.

Cooperating with prosecutors, he gave testimony against Atilla which was used to convict the banker.

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