Two Michael Flynn associates charged with illegally lobbying for Turkey
Michael Flynn’s former business partner has been charged with illegally working as a foreign agent and participating in a conspiracy to extradite a U.S.-based Turkish cleric to Turkey. Another Flynn business associate, Ekim Alptekin, is also charged with illegal lobbying and lying to the FBI.
In a filing unveiled Monday, Flynn’s business partner, Bijan Kian, was indicted for lobbying U.S. government officials without registering as a foreign agent and conspiring to shape public opinion about Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish cleric residing in Pennsylvania. Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has blamed Gülen for stoking hostilities against his regime that resulted in a failed attempt to overthrow his government in 2016.
The investigation was initiated in 2016 after Flynn, then a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, authored an op-ed for The Hill that disparaged Gülen as a “radical Islamist” as part of an effort to push for the extradition of Gülen to Turkey. Last year, the Wall Street Journal reported that former CIA Director James Woolsey attended a meeting in the fall of 2016 between Flynn and Turkish officials in which they discussed “a covert step in the dead of night to whisk [Gülen] away,” but Monday’s 21-page indictment didn’t appear to include any references to that scheme.
Alptekin, a close ally of Erdoğan, also helped finance a report facilitated by Flynn and Kian titled “Fethullah Gülen: A Primer for Investigators.”