Two Associates of Michael Flynn Charged With Covertly Lobbying for Turkey
Dec 20, 2018, 01:01
The charges underscored the broadening impact of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, which is focused on possible collusion between Russian Federation and US President Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign, but which has led to at least four spinoff probes including the case against Mr Alptekin and Mr Rafiekian. Kian appeared in court Monday morning and was released without bail.
The Flynn Intel Group based in Alexandria, Virginia, registered retroactively with the Justice Department as a foreign agent in March 2017, disclosing that Alptekin's firm, Inovo BV, had paid it more than $500,000 for work that could benefit Turkey.
Among other evidence, the indictment cites an e-mail from Alptekin to Rafiekian and Flynn in August 2016 in which Alptekin says that he had spoken about the project to discredit Gulen with two Turkish ministers and had a "green light to discuss confidentiality, budget and the scope of the contract". Fethullah Gülen has lived in exile in Pennsylvania since 1999; Erdogan blames him for the 2016 coup attempt and has imprisoned scores of perceived political foes with no ties to Gülen on claims that they're connected to his alleged anti-Erdogan conspiracy. Also charged was Kamil Ekim Alptekin, a Dutch-Turkish businessman, who is charged with the above two counts, as well as four counts of making false statements. Trout declined to comment after the proceeding.
Alptekin, 41, maintained that he was Flynn's client and not Turkey, a spokesperson said.
Instead, the Flynn Intel Group's work would culminate in an op-ed with Flynn's byline published in The Hill newspaper and website on November 8, 2016, the day before the presidential election, according to court documents.
In fact, Flynn had called a senior transition official at Trump's Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago, to talk about what he should say to Kislyak about the sanctions that had been announced, and he followed up later to report the upshot of the conversation with the ambassador, according to his plea agreement.
The campaign led to a meeting on September 19 between Flynn, Kian, Alptekin, former CIA Director James Woolsey, and two Turkish government ministers: Foreign minister Mevlet Cavusoglu and energy minister (and Erdogan son-in-law) Berat Albayrak.
"The indictment alleges that, after Alptekin made the payments to Company A, it was to kick back 20 percent of the payments to Alptekin's company in the Netherlands, and two such kickbacks were made", the Justice Department said in a statement.
The Turkey case against Kian and Alptekin, though, is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys James Gillis and Evan Turgeon in the Eastern District of Virginia, not the special counsel.
At the time the administration of president Barack Obama had not approved Ankara's extradition request for Gulen, and the Trump administration has also demurred on the issue. The move raised eyebrows because the former national security adviser was already working as an adviser for Trump's presidential campaign. In recommending he serve no prison time, prosecutors said Flynn not only helped with the Russian Federation probe but also an undisclosed - and separate - criminal investigation.
As part of his cooperation in that probe, he has provided prosecutors with voluminous records from his business, Flynn Intel Group, which carried out the lobbying work.
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