Flynn Associates Indicted for Acting as Unregistered Foreign Agents

April FrancisDec 18, 2018

Two ex-business associates of former national security adviser Michael Flynn have been charged over alleged illegal lobbying on behalf of the Turkish government in the United States and making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to an indictment unsealed Monday.

The indictment of Bijan Kian and Ekim Alptekin on charges for failing to register as foreign agents and making false statements shed light on the Ankara-backed lobbying campaign that was aimed primarily at extraditing Turkish preacher Fetullah Gulen to Turkey, where he stands accused of organizing a July 2016 coup attempt.

He was indicted on charges including failing to register as a foreign agent.

The defendants used Flynn's lobbying firm, the now-defunct Flynn Intel Group, to damage Gülen's reputation, according to the indictment, which refers to the firm only as "Company A". The two worked throughout 2016 to seek ways to have cleric Fethullah Gülen extradited from the U.S. to Turkey.

Prosecutors allege that Flynn and Kian sought to lobby members of Congress to extradite Gulen, and Alptekin, a Turkish businessman with ties to Erdoğan, helped finance the project.

Mr Mueller's prosecutors had already asked that Flynn receive a lenient sentence, however, and asked in a filing that he receive as little as no time in prison.

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Kian, who is in the process of moving from California to Washington, D.C., was released on personal recognizance bond and must periodically notify his probation officer of his whereabouts.

Flynn, who was charged with making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation probe, is due to be sentenced on December 18.

The indictment describes Kian and Flynn as co-founders of Alexandria-based Flynn Intel Group, which is listed in the indictment only as "Company A". The pair sought to hide that the work was, in fact, directed by the Turkish government, federal prosecutors said.

Over the years, Erdogan has hired USA public relations firms and lobbyists to generate negative press coverage of Gulen and pressure Washington for his extradition. Turkey's foreign minister said on Sunday that the Trump administration is "working on" Gülen's extradition.

In 2016, Flynn famously penned an op-ed in The Hill in which he advocated for Gulen's extradition. "The arrow has left the bow!"

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

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