Prosecutors charge 2 involved in Flynn's Turkish lobbying

Alptekin is charged with one count of conspiracy, one count of acting as an unregistered agent of Turkey, and four counts of false statements.

The Department of Justice on Monday unsealed the indictments of 66-year-old Californian Bijan Rafiekian (also known as Bijan Kian) and 41-year-old Turkish-Dutch national Kamil Ekim Alptekin.

Kian, whose full name is Bijan Rafiekian, was arrested and made an initial appearance today in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia.

Two former business associates of Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump's former national security adviser, have been indicted for conspiring to influence both US politicians and public opinion concerning a political rival of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2016.

In the summer of 2016, when Flynn was working as an adviser to the Trump campaign, the three initiated what they called a "Truth Campaign" that compared Gulen to Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini.

Flynn is set to be sentenced Tuesday for lying to FBI agents as part of a special counsel investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

This is a developing story.

Alptekin, a former chairman of the Turkey-U.S. Business Council, has said the payments to Flynn came from him personally and from Inovo, and were not from the Turkish government.

As part of the plea deal, Mueller did not charge Flynn with perjury in relation to his work in Turkey. This deception occurred even as Flynn served as a top security adviser to Trump's presidential campaign and subsequently became his first national security adviser. His lawyer, Robert Trout, declined to comment. He was released on bail.The Turkish government has long demanded the USA extradite cleric Fethullah Gulen, who has been in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999.

The indictment also provides the backstory behind a November 8, 2016, op-ed Flynn published in The Hill newspaper titled "Our Ally Turkey Is in Crisis and Needs Our Support", which compares Gulen to Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini.

Flynn admitted one count of lying to the FBI in a plea deal which led to him providing "substantial" information to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian Federation meddling in the 2016 election.

Earlier this year the probe was handed off to the U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia to handle.

"We all remember another quiet, bearded elder cleric who sat under an apple tree ... in the suburbs of Paris in 1978", Flynn wrote in the op-ed, mimicking language provided to him by Kian.

The indictment alleges that Mr Rafiekian and Mr Alptekin made false statements about the project in filings to the Department of Justice in order to mask the involvement of the Turkish Government, which had been pushing for the extradition of Mr Gulen, identified only as a Turkish citizen in the indictment.

On Friday, Mueller released FBI memos indicating that Flynn lied about his contact with Kislyak not only to the FBI agents, but also to a number of Trump administration officials before he was approached by the FBI, according to a report by CNN. "He claimed to be a man of God who wanted to topple a dictator and return the power to the people".

  • Jon Douglas