A U.S. prosecutor, who garnered fame in Turkey for launching a probe against a controversial Turkish-Iranian businessman, has said allegations claiming he was bribed $2.5 million by individuals trying to topple the Turkish government were "the silliest" among many "silly things written" about him.
New York prosecutor Preet Bharara, widely known for being the U.S. prosecutor probing Reza Zarrab over fraud-related charges, has replied to reports in pro-government media claiming he had received a bribe to launch an investigation against Zarrab. Bharara's statement came as he delivered a speech at the New York Press Association Spring Convention on April 8.
"I apparently – and it's hard because I don't understand Turkish very well yet – I've been featured in the cover of newspapers in Turkey with the suggestion that the reason I have brought the case – Preet Bharara, from Punjab-India, grew up in New Jersey, U.S. attorney in Manhattan – because I have been bribed by pro-Turkish-government figures who hoped to overthrow the government in Turkey, to the tune of $2.5 million.
So there have been a lot of silly things written about me in my time as [a] U.S. attorney. I can confirm for all of you that that's the silliest" said Bharara, adding Zarrab's current case was not related to the graft operations in Turkey.
Bharara said part of the reason for a sudden hike in his Twitter followers, mostly users from Turkey, in the four days after Zarrab's arrest was "a feeling that corruption is not being dealt with in that country."
"I'm not going to make any comment on that, but that's a feeling of what was going [on]. And the other reason that it's been widely reported is that people have not believed that there was a free press there and so there's a lot more of people taking to the freedom of social media" Bharara added.
Zarrab was arrested in the U.S. last month on charges that he conspired to conduct hundreds of millions of dollars in financial transactions for the Iranian government or other entities to evade U.S. sanctions. He is widely known in Turkey, as his name was embroiled into the Dec. 17-21, 2013 graft, operations that involved four former ministers and other state officials.