NEW YORK (AP) — A judge has belittled a Turkey official's claims that a Turkish cleric living in Pennsylvania is behind the New York trial of a banker in an Iran economic sanctions conspiracy.

Judge Richard Berman Friday labeled the claim an "illogical foreign conspiracy theory."

He commented in rejecting a defense mistrial request after a former Turkish police official testified he fled Turkey because he feared for his safety after exposing government corruption.

Berman criticized a defense lawyer for seemingly joining "a rather far-fetched conspiracy theory bandwagon" by bringing up the U.S.-based cleric in his questioning of the police official.

A senior Turkish government minister recently said the trial was an attempt by the cleric to harm Turkey's government.

The development came after Turkish banker Mehmet Hakan Atilla began testifying in his defense.