Reza Zarrab accused of raping cellmate in Manhattan prison

Iran sanctions case witness Reza Zarrab says cellmate made death threats

A Turkish-Iranian gold trader testified Thursday he fears for the safety of his family and himself after the government of Turkey launched an espionage investigation and after he was attacked in prison by a knife-wielding inmate who claimed he was told to kill him for cooperating with US authorities.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday that the trial is a conspiracy to "blemish" the country.

Robert J. Anello, a lawyer for Zarrab denied the allegations, saying "the allegations are outrageous and false from a source that is not remotely credible". The plaintiff's lawyer, Alexei Schacht, didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

The disclosures in Manhattan federal court by Reza Zarrab, the government's star witness, came as he finished seven days of testimony in the trial of a Turkish banker charged with violating US economic sanctions against Iran. There's been no mention of the rape allegation in court.

From 2016 to June 2017, Zarrab "paid correction officers" in NY "to smuggle contraband, including cellphones and alcohol into the jail for him", according to court documents released last month.

The man claims Zarrab befriended him, paid for his lawyer, put money into the man's jailhouse account and wired money to his family in Africa - and then began talking suggestively.

According to the plea agreement, Zarrab also paid bribes to foreign officials and corporate representatives between 2002 and March 2016 in return for personal benefits, favorable business dealings and the protection of government officials.

The inmate pleaded guilty in July to one count of conspiring to provide material support for a terrorist group and is awaiting sentencing in federal court.

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Once they were cellmates, Zarrab "started telling Plaintiff that he likes having sex with both men and women", Jaber's suit reads.

Jaber, a cancer survivor with a heart condition, "felt helpless and unable to fight off the younger and stronger defendant", suit says.

"The parties lived together locked for much of the time in a small cell which became a kind of torture chamber", Jaber's suit filed Thursday in Manhattan Supreme Court states.

Zarrab has confessed to bribing United States prison guards in exchange for booze and cell phones.

Zarrab, "through his power at the jail", arranged to have Jaber moved into his cell, according to papers.

Zarrab also raped him twice, the lawsuit alleges. The sexual assaults continued, until the other inmate eventually "had the courage" to complain to staff and Zarrab was moved to another unit, the complaint says.

Zarrab's testimony in the ongoing case will likely will win him leniency against charges that could carry a prison term of up to 130 years.