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The case has strained diplomatic relations between the United States and Turkey, and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has condemned it as a political attack on his government.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday a US court's sentencing of Mehmet Hakan Atilla, a banker at Turkish state-lender Halkbank, to 32 months in prison was not legitimate or credible due to "fake evidence and incorrect statements" during the trial.

Atilla has already served 14 months in prison since his arrest past year during a business trip to NY.

Prosecutors identified Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab as the central figure in the scheme.

Zarrab is still awaiting sentencing, the Justice Department said.

Atilla, who worked as a deputy general manager at Halkbank, has already spent 14 months in jail.

There was no immediate response to the sentencing from the Turkish government or Halkbank.

Prosecutors had sought a sentence of about 20 years for Atilla.

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"What we need to show the world in proceedings such as this, especially today, especially now, is that we Americans aren't bullies", he said.

Mehmet Hakan Atilla was convicted in January for participating in a plot to help Iran spend billions of its oil and gas revenues in other other countries through Halkbank, Turkey's state-controlled bank. His conviction followed a four-week trial in which Atilla testified in his own defense.

Atilla was convicted on January 3 of conspiring to violate US sanctions laws after a four-week trial in which the defendant testified in his defense.

Atilla will be free to return to Turkey after serving his sentence.

It went onto say that the court relied on "forged evidence and false statements" of Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) members - the group behind the 2016 failed coup in Turkey - which it said "eradicated the legitimacy of the trial".

"A great injustice is being done against Halkbank", Erdogan told Bloomberg TV in an interview on Monday, calling Atilla "definitely innocent".

The 32-month sentence for Halkbank's Mehmet Hakan Atilla by the District Court for the Southern District of NY was "inconsistent with the principle of a fair trial", said Turkey's Foreign Ministry in a statement.


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