Turkish police have summoned an FBI official stationed in Turkey in connection with testimony in a U.S. federal corruption case against a Turkish banker, Turkey’s official news agency reported.
Anadolu Agency said the FBI attaché was “invited” to speak to officials after a former Turkish deputy police chief reportedly told a jury in New York that the FBI paid him $50,000 and U.S. prosecutors covered his rent. Anadolu did not name the attaché.
State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert confirmed an FBI official was “brought into the Turkish ministry.” The American case has further strained already tense relations between Turkey and the U.S.
The testimony in the U.S. involved the former Turkish deputy police chief, Huseyin Korkmaz, who was part of a law enforcement team leading a corruption probe in 2013 in Turkey. He was later arrested in a 2014 investigation for alleged links to U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who was later blamed for a 2016 coup attempt.
Korkmaz said he fled Turkey after the coup, with evidence allegedly showing collusion by top Turkish government officials in a money-laundering scheme evading U.S. sanctions on Iran.
Korkmaz is testifying in the trial against banker Mehmet Hakan Atilla, who has pleaded not guilty. The star witness against Atilla is a Turkish-Iranian gold trader who pleaded guilty and said he bribed a former Turkish economy minister and the former manager of state-owned Halkbank.
Turkey calls the 2013 corruption probe “a judicial coup” by Gulen’s network and a precursor to the 2016 coup.
Gulen denies all involvement.