Indictment charges partners of former national security adviser Michael Flynn

Indictment charges partners of former national security adviser Michael Flynn

Kerry Wise
December 20, 2018

Two former business associates of former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn were charged with trying to influence USA politicians to seek the extradition of a Turkish cleric, according to an indictment filed in the Eastern District of Virginia.Bijan Rafiekian, also known as Bijan Kian, and a Dutch-Turkish businessman Kamil Alptekin (aka Ekim Alptekin) are charged with conspiracy and acting as an agent of a foreign government.

Indictments against the two Flynn associates, Bijan Rafiekian and Ekim Alptekin, were unsealed in federal court in Virginia on Monday. The two worked throughout 2016 to seek ways to have cleric Fethullah Gulen extradited from the U.S.to Turkey. However, not only did Turkish cabinet-level officials approve the budget for the project, but Alptekin "provided the officials updates on the work and relayed their directions on the work to Rafiekian, Person A and others at Company A", the Justice Department said in a statement. Prosecutors trace a line comparing the Ayatollah Khomenei's pre-revolutionary days meditating under an "apple tree" in France to Gulen's spiritual refuge in Pennsylvania from an August 4 email that Kian sent Flynn to the final draft, published in November.

On Sept. 19, 2016, Kian, Alptekin and Flynn met in NY with two Turkish government ministers, previously reported by the Wall Street Journal to be Turkish Energy Minister (and Erdogan's son-in-law) Berat Albayrak and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. Kian allegedly oversaw key aspects of the project related to Gulen, including a documentary film.

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. Alptekin used his Netherlands-based company Inovo BV to hide the source of payments to Flynn Intel Group, according to court documents. In reality, according to the indictment, it was a kickback for Alptekin's pretending he and not the Turkish government was the client for the work Flynn's company was doing. They tried to hide from U.S. authorities that some $530,000 in payments to the Flynn Intel Group were for work on behalf of the Turkish government, prosecutors allege. United States authorities allege that high-level members of Turkey's government approved financing for the gambit, and Alptekin kept them updated on its progress.

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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. At the time, Flynn was part of Trump's presidential campaign.

Those discussions culminated in the op-ed's publication on November 8. That undercuts Alptekin's claims to The Daily Caller that he would have advised Flynn against writing the op-ed.

The investigators say both men acted on the instructions of the Turkish government without registering as representatives of a foreign government.

Last year, amid news reports that his work was under federal investigation, Alptekin defended himself on Twitter and denied the allegations.