Flynn's former business partner charged with undisclosed lobbying for Turkey

The charges underscored the broadening impact of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, which is focused on possible collusion between Russian Federation and U.S. President Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign but which has led to at least four spinoff probes including the case against Alptekin and Rafiekian.

The charges against Bijan Kian and Ekim Alptekin were unsealed Monday in Virginia court, the New York Times reports.

In his December 1, 2017 plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller, Flynn admitted to making false statements to the Justice Department when registering as a foreign agent of Turkey on March 7, 2017. According to the indictment, Rafiekian was vice chairman of Flynn's business group, the Flynn Intel Group.

U.S. authorities said the goal of the lobbying project was to press for the extradition of the Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999. 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.

Throughout the Turkish lobbying case made public Monday, Flynn is referred to as "Person A".

Ekim Alptekin, a Turkish businessman regarded as close to Erdoğan, was also charged in the indictment, the filing shows.

Kian's lawyer, Robert Trout, declined comment after today's hearing.

Mr Alptekin, 41, maintained that he was Mr Flynn's client, not Turkey, a spokeswoman Molly Toomey said.

If that name sounds familiar, it may be from the now-infamous op-ed Flynn wrote for The Hill on Election Day 2016 headlined "Our ally Turkey is in crisis and needs our support". Gulen has denied any involvement in the coup.

Along with the editorial, the Flynn Intel Group produced a report on Gulen and video for a documentary that was never made.

Negotiations began in July 2016, according to the court records, after the Justice Department told the Turkish government that Gulen could not be extradited without more evidence of wrongdoing. Kian and Flynn, however, did not register their work for Turkey.

Following a phone call between Erdogan and President Trump last week, Turkish officials told reporters that the US president said possible tax violations by Gulen were being reviewed.

According to a sentencing memo submitted by Mueller's team earlier this month, Flynn has provided "substantial assistance" in several unspecified investigations, one of which is believed to be the Turkish lobbying effort involving Kian and Alptekin.

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 USA law".

As part of his plea deal, Flynn would not be face any charges related to his false statements about his Turkish lobbying efforts.

On Nov. 8, 2016 - the day of the U.S. presidential election - an op-ed appeared in The Hill newspaper under Flynn's byline that repeated Kian's "apple tree" language, comparing Gulen with Khomeini.


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