11:53 GMT +325 April 2018
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    Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan.

    Erdogan: US-Turkish Bilateral Ties and Accords 'Are Losing Validity'

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    An executive of Turkey's majority state-owned Halkbank was convicted Wednesday by a US federal court for evading Iran sanctions.

    Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Friday that bilateral legal accords with the United States were "losing validity."

    "If this is the US understanding of justice, then the world is doomed," Erdogan said at a news conference, adding that "the United States should excuse us, but the laws in our bilateral ties and the bilateral accords between us are losing their validity. I am saddened to say this, but this is how it will be from now on."

    This was Erdogan's first comment since the verdict, while the Turkish Foreign Ministry condemned the conviction on Thursday as unprecedented meddling in its internal affairs.

    READ MORE: US Jury Convicts Turkish Banker of Helping Iran Evade Sanctions

    In late-December the US State Department announced its decision to lift all visa restrictions for travelers from Turkey because "the security posture" had improved and Ankara had promised not to arrest employees of its embassy and consulates.

    Shortly after the US government's announcement, the Turkish Embassy in Washington released a statement saying that it would recommence issuing visas for US citizens as a gesture of reciprocity. However, the Turkish side dismissed the claim that it had given the mentioned reassurances to the United States and emphasized its concerns about continuing cases against Turkish citizens in the United States.

    The US Embassy in Ankara suspended non-immigrant visa services at US diplomatic facilities in Turkey in October following the arrest of Metin Topuz, an employee at the US Consulate General in Istanbul. Ankara responded by suspending visa applications for US citizens.

    Commenting on the situation, Erdogan said that the United States itself had initiated the visa crisis between Ankara and Washington.

    Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal reported citing its sources that US Special Counsel Robert Mueller was investigating former White House national security adviser Mike Flynn’s alleged role in the forcible extradition of Gulen, who lives in a remote compound in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, to Turkey in return for $15 million. However, a lawyer for Flynn's son and a spokesman for Flynn's team have denied accusations coming from the Wall Street Journal's report, according to Reuters. Additionally, media reported in March that Flynn was involved in carrying out research on Gulen that may have benefited the Turkish government.

    READ MORE: Mueller Investigation Has Enough Evidence to Charge Michael Flynn – Media Report

    Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan demands the extradition of Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen from the US after the failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016 claimed the lives of more than 240 people. The Turkish government has accused  Gulen, who has been living in Pennsylvania since 1999, of masterminding the coup. Moreover, Ankara has sent several packages of documents to Washington since then to support the extradition request.

     

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    Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey, United States
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