Why Indian-born US attorney Preet Bharara today is a hero in Turkey

Mohammad Behzad Fatmi
Mohammad Behzad FatmiMar 28, 2016 | 13:17

Why Indian-born US attorney Preet Bharara today is a hero in Turkey

Preet Bharara, US attorney for the Southern District of New York, made headlines in Indian media in 2013 when he led the prosecution against an Indian consular employee, Divyani Khobragade, in New York. Khobragade's detention and subsequent treatment by US marshals sparked a huge diplomatic row between India and the US, and Bharara was at the centre of it all. He was despised by many in India for initiating actions against an Indian diplomat which they argued was a breach of international law.


Over two years later, the Indian-born US attorney is in the limelight in Turkey and is being hailed as a hero by hundreds of thousands of Turks for arresting an Iranian-born Turkish businessman, Reza Zarrab. Within a week of Zarrab's arrest in the US, Bharara's Twitter following has sky rocketed to over 272,000 from 8,010. His two Tweets regarding Zarrab's arrest were retweeted more than 62,000 times and liked by nearly 100,000 Twitter users.

Zarrab was on a vacation in the US city of Miami and was apprehended on the charges of helping the Iranian government evade economic sanctions and launder hundreds of millions of dollars in Turkey and elsewhere.

What makes this case incredibly important is the fact that Zarrab was a key figure in the huge graft scandal that engulfed Recep Tayyip Erdogan-led Turkish government in 2013. He was arrested for bribing senior officials of the government and some very close associates of prime minister (now president) Erdogan to facilitate his dubious activities that has now landed him in American jail.

Turkey's judiciary is miserably failing under Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

But Erdogan insisted on his innocence and went the extra mile to protect him. He turned the judiciary in the country upside down by purging and jailing thousands of police officers and prosecutors, destroying the independence of crucial state institutions and passing utterly undemocratic laws to subjugate the judicial system.


Subsequently, the case against Zarrab was dropped and shamefully he was even awarded the top exporter prize by the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TIM), a pro-government business group in June, 2015. The accolade was handed over to him by now deputy prime minister, Numan Kurtulmus, erstwhile economy minister, Nihat Zeybekci, and the head of TIM, Mehmet Buyukeksi.

Now, Zarrab's arrest on similar charges in the US as in Turkey vindicates those police officers and prosecutors who had taken action against him in 2013, but were labelled "conspirators and coup plotters" by the Erdogan regime.

More importantly, given the fact that rule of law is no longer respected in Erdogan's Turkey and the country's judiciary is miserably failing to serve justice, critical Turks are placing their trust in the US attorney Bharara in the hope that a fair trial of Zarrab could bring corruption and all other alleged illicit activities of Erdogan and his affiliates to light on international stage.

The next few weeks are very promising for many Turks and Bharara is the hero who is expected to do what they have been waiting for so long - justice.

Last updated: March 28, 2016 | 13:17
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