Turkey urges US to drop case against gold trader Reza Zarrab

A Turkish gold trader charged with conspiring to evade US sanctions against Iran will not go on trial in New York this week.

Reza Zarrab dropped out of sight in the two months leading up to his scheduled trial.

However, there is widespread speculation that Zarrab has flipped and is now cooperating with the prosecution. He was abruptly released from prison in early November and his whereabouts are publically unknown.

The US attorney says he remains in federal custody. And that has led to speculation that he entered the witness protection programme.

It's prompted Turkey's prime minister to suggest Zarrab has reached a plea deal with US authorities.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey maintains this is a politically motivated prosecution intended to discredit and ultimately overthrow his government on behalf of Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic leader who lives in Pennsylvania.

Al Jazeera's Shihab Rattansi reports from Washington.

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