Two ex-associates of Michael Flynn charged with lobbying for Turkey

Posted December 20, 2018

An ex-business partner of Michael Flynn, U.S. President Donald Trump's former national security adviser, was charged with undisclosed lobbying aimed at ensuring the extradition to Turkey of a Muslim cleric living in the United States. Kian made his first appearance in Alexandria federal court Monday morning; Alptekin remains in Turkey.

On Friday, Mueller released FBI memos indicating that Flynn lied about his contact with Kislyak not only to the FBI agents, but also to a number of Trump administration officials before he was approached by the FBI, according to a report by CNN.

Flynn's lobby shop, the Flynn Intel Group, is referred to as Company A in the indictment, which alleges that Alptekin's company paid $600,000 to Flynn's firm from a Turkish account, and 20 percent from two of the three payments were kicked back to Alptekin's company.

Court documents show Rafiekian, Alptekin, and Flynn began discussing a potential project for Turkey in late July, 2016, shortly after the United States declined a Turkish request to extradite Gulen.

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Both were charged with a conspiracy to violate federal lobbying rules as part of Turkey's campaign to pressure the U.S. into extraditing Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen - a foe of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who is exiled in Pennsylvania, the Times reports.

Publicly, the client for Flynn's company would be registered as a Dutch company, but in reality, the money was coming from the Turkish government, the indictment says.

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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. But the case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys James Gillis and Evan Turgeon in the Eastern District of Virginia, not the special counsel. While that event was being held, there was a violent clash between Turkish guards and protesters outside the Turkish ambassador's residence. Kian is scheduled to be formally arraigned on Tuesday.

Shortly after receiving the go-ahead from the Turkish government, Rafiekian, and Alptekin took steps to hide the source of funds and influence, renaming the lobbying project from "Project Freedom" to "Operation Confidence" and establishing a payment arrangement where Inovo BV would wire a total of $600,000 to Flynn Intel Group, with Alptekin receiving 20 percent as a kickback, the prosecutors allege.

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The Flynn Intel Group also falsely claimed that a meeting in NY with Turkish officials on September 19, 2016, was just for background on the country, prosecutors say.

Kevin Corke reports from the White House ahead of the sentencing of President Trump's former national security adviser for lying during the Russian Federation probe. Flynn's firm is now defunct.

In mid-November, US media reported that Trump had instructed federal law enforcement agencies to examine legal ways he could extradite Gulen in order to get Turkey to ease its pressure on Saudi Arabia over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Kian was allowed out on a personal recognizance bond Monday, with one condition: That he keep the probation office abreast of his movements.

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