Associates Of Michael Flynn Charged In Alleged Scheme To Smear Turkish Cleric

Ex-Flynn business partner charged in Turkish lobbying case

Flynn is subject to the ongoing investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US election.

Flynn is not charged in the Virginia case against his colleagues because federal prosecutors have said Flynn gave "substantial assistance" by cooperating with Mueller and on other investigations, likely including the Kian and Alptekin case. Months after writing that, Flynn admitted to the lobbying and registered as a foreign agent.

Flynn, Kian, and Alptekin drew up a contract in which Alptekin's firm paid hundreds of thousands to Flynn Intel Group, Flynn's consulting group, for delivering "findings and results including but not limited to making criminal referrals" against Gulen, The Washington Post reports.

Flynn first triggered attention from the Justice Department after writing a November 8, 2016 op-ed in The Hill titled "Our Ally Turkey Is In Crisis And Needs Our Support", in which the former Defense Intelligence Agency director advocated for Gulen's removal from the USA, calling him a "radical cleric". The Turkish government has accused Gulen of helping in a failed coup. Alptekin, a dual Dutch-Turkish citizen, engaged Flynn and Rafiekian to conduct an opposition research and lobbying effort focusing on Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish imam and writer living in the United States. Alptekin was also charged with three counts of lying to the federal agents, court documents reveal.

Kian's lawyer, Robert Trout, declined comment after today's hearing. Further, prosecutors say Alptekin "directed and funded" Flynn and Kian's activities and later lied to investigators concerning his efforts.

The Daily Caller uncovered the relationship between Flynn Intel and Inovo days after Flynn published an Election Day op-ed at The Hill calling for Gulen's extradition. Flynn has denied these reports, but Turkey has had Gulen's follower rendered illegally back to its territory from other countries-including, most recently, Kosovo.

Flynn served as Donald Trump's national security adviser in the first weeks of his presidency
Flynn served as Donald Trump's national security adviser in the first weeks of his presidency

During an interview with ABC News in May 2017 Alptekin had denied ever working for the Turkish government.

Although Flynn, identified as "Person A", is described in the court filing as heavily involved in the lobbying operation, he is not a defendant in the new indictment. They tried to hide from U.S. authorities that some $530,000 in payments to the Flynn Intel Group were for work on behalf of the Turkish government, prosecutors allege.

On July 27, 2016, according to the indictment, Kian wrote to Alptekin that he'd had a "detailed discussion" with Flynn and "we are ready to engage on what needs to be done".

On Nov. 8, 2016 - the day of the United States presidential election - an op-ed appeared in The Hill newspaper under Flynn's byline that repeated Kian's "apple tree" language, comparing Gulen with Khomeini. Prosecutors recommended he serve no prison time, and said he helped with Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation, and also a separate criminal investigation.

Last December, Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and agreed to cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller in his ongoing investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

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