Two Associates of Michael Flynn Charged With Covertly Lobbying for Turkey

Bijan Kian and Kamil Alptekin were charged in U.S. District Court in Eastern Virginia with crimes connected to acting as unregistered agents of the Turkish government, according to a DOJ statement.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has blamed Gulen for stoking a failed coup against him in 2016 - and his foreign minister grabbed headlines on Sunday by saying that Trump told Erdogan that Washington was working on extraditing the cleric. Prosecutors charge they did not properly disclose their work as foreign agents and, in fact, constructed a scheme to try to hide the ultimate origins of their payments in Turkey.

Flynn admitted one count of lying to the FBI in a plea deal which led to him providing "substantial" information to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian Federation meddling in the 2016 election.

This is breaking news. Alptekin, who holds both Dutch and Turkish citizenship, is based in Istanbul.

Trump allies who have alleged that Flynn was entrapped by the Federal Bureau of Investigation have sought the release of the interview notes for months, believing they could reveal that Flynn was confused in the session or tricked by agents. The indictment says their work was concealed as being between Flynn's and Alptekin's consulting firms, but in reality it was on behalf of the Turkish government.

A representative for Alptekin, 41, who was charged with six criminal counts, said she did not immediately have a comment.

Alptekin, a former chairman of the Turkey-U.S. Business Council, has said the payments to Flynn came from him personally and from Inovo, and were not from the Turkish government.

Rafiekian, a former director at the U.S. Export-Import Bank and a co-founder of the Flynn Intel Group (FIG), the consultancy at the heart of the case, made his first appearance on Monday morning at a federal court in Alexandria, Virginia.

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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.

Kian and Alptekin were allegedly involved "in a conspiracy to covertly influence USA politicians and public opinion against a Turkish citizen living in the United States whose extradition had been requested by the Government of Turkey".

On Nov. 8, 2016 - Election Day - Flynn wrote an op-ed piece in The Hill newspaper titled "Our Ally Turkey Is in Crisis and Needs Our Support".

The DOJ opened an investigation into Flynn's company after the op-ed was published. The indictment notes that Flynn's column uses identical or very similar language to that prepared by Kian in a draft op-ed.

"We all remember another quiet, bearded, elder cleric who sat under an apple tree in Neauphle-le-Chateau in the suburbs of Paris in 1978", Flynn wrote.

The indictment came one day ahead of the planned sentencing of Flynn, who was arrested a year ago over his secret dealings with Russian officials and Turkey.

Alptekin, who had complained a week earlier that the Flynn Group had not done enough work to honor the contract, responded that Kian's op-ed was "right on target".

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