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Flynn associate arrested on illegal lobbying charges

Flynn associate arrested on illegal lobbying charges

A former business partner of former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn was charged with trying to influence U.S. politicians to seek the extradition of a Turkish cleric, according to an indictment filed in the Eastern District of Virginia.

Flynn's former partner, Bijan Rafiekian, was indicted on two criminal counts in the Eastern District of Virginia, including conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government, according to an indictment unsealed on Monday.

The new charges appear to shed light on the cooperation of Flynn, who past year admitted to lying about several aspects of the lobbying work.

United States media say this may possibly be due to Flynn's cooperation in the Russian Federation probe by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

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".

Kian and Alptekin were allegedly 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". 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.

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

The conspirators "sought to hide that the Government of Turkey was directing the work", according to the indictment. Alptekin is also charged with one count of making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to the indictment, which was issued by a grand jury Wednesday. Alptekin, who holds both Dutch and Turkish citizenship, is based in Istanbul. Kian appeared in federal court, while Alptekin remains overseas.

The Daily Caller uncovered the relationship between Flynn Intel and Inovo days after Flynn published an Election Day op-ed at The Hill calling for Gulen's extradition. Kian, according to prosecutors, in response produced a draft of the op-ed, which compared Gulen to Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini and argued the USA should not provide a "safe haven" for the cleric. By prosecutors' account, the foreign government found a powerful and enthusiastic ally in Flynn - one who was willing on the eve of the presidential election to pen an op-ed pushing for Gulen's expulsion.

"We all remember another quiet, bearded, elder cleric who sat under an apple tree in Neauphle-le-Château in the suburbs of Paris in 1978", Flynn said in the article. Kian is scheduled to be formally arraigned on Tuesday. That undercuts Alptekin's claims to The Daily Caller that he would have advised Flynn against writing the op-ed.

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

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". The special counsel instead charged Flynn with lying about his conversation with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

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