Turkey's economy minister defends predecessor over Iran sanctions charges

FILE PHOTO: Turkey's Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci makes a speech in Cologne, Germany, March 5, 2017. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey’s economy minister said on Thursday his predecessor Zafer Caglayan, charged in the United States with conspiring to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran, had done nothing to harm his country.

“Caglayan did not do anything against Turkey’s interests,” Nihat Zeybekci told reporters. “It is no concern to Turkey if Caglayan acted against interests of other countries.”

Zeybekci also said the case against Caglayan remained unverified. “There are claims that these sanctions are violated, but the ones who claim these things are obliged to prove them.”

U.S. prosecutors have charged Caglayan, a former Turkish economy minister, and the former head of a Turkish state bank with conspiring to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran, widening an investigation that has fueled tension between Washington and Ankara.

Reporting by Gulsen Solaker and Ezki Erkoyun; Writing by Dominic Evans; Editing by David Dolan