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Prosecutors charge 2 involved in Michael Flynn's Turkish lobbying

Prosecutors charge 2 involved in Michael Flynn's Turkish lobbying

Kian and Alptekin's prosecution is led not by the special counsel but prosecutors with the Eastern District of Virginia.

Two business associates of Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump's former national security adviser, were charged Monday with illegally lobbying for Turkey as part of a campaign to pressure the United States to expel a Turkish cleric. The Turkish government and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blame Gulen for a failed attempted coup against him in 2016, which Gulen has denied, and has been aggressively pushing for the United States government to extradite him.

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.

In March 2017, the Wall Street Journal reported that he discussed the possibility of extraditing Gulen with Turkish government officials.

Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn left the federal courthouse in Washington, July 10, following a status hearing. Kian, too, served as a member of the Trump transition, as part of the team preparing the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

According to the indictment, Rafiekian and Alptekin "were involved in a conspiracy to covertly influence US politicians and public opinion against a Turkish citizen living in the United States whose extradition had been requested by the Government of Turkey".

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 Alliance for Shared Values, a non-profit organisation affiliated with Mr Gulen, said in a statement that the indictments illustrated "just how far the Erdogan Government will go in breaking U.S. law".

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. He was released on bail. There is a warrant out for his arrest. Their efforts, prosecutors said, were directed by Kamil Ekim Alptekin, a Turkish businessman with close ties to the country's leadership.

That piece in The Hill, which called Gulen "a "radical cleric ... running a scam", was the culmination of a months-long public and private lobbying campaign for which the Turkish government agreed to pay Flynn's consulting firm $600,000, according to the indictment".

"Let me give you a real life experience: 1978: A soft spoken cleric sitting under an apple tree in Neauphle-le-Chateau in France looked so harmless", Kian wrote Alptekin in an August 4, 2016, email. Flynn is expected to be sentenced on Tuesday.

"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. "He claimed to be a man of God who wanted to be a dictator". "We should not provide him safe haven".

Kian and Alptekin were charged with conspiracy to work as unregistered agents of a foreign government.

Prosecutors say that Alptekin relayed updates on the project to Turkish officials and "informed RAFIEKIAN and Person A whether the Turkish officials were satisfied with the work Company A was performing". Prosecutors recommended he serve no prison time, and said he helped with Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation, and also a separate criminal investigation.

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