Prosecutors accuse 2 Michael Flynn associates of acting as foreign agents

Michael Flynn

Two former business associates of Michael Flynn, President Trump's first national security adviser, were indicted as part of a federal investigation into Turkey's illegal lobbying effort to pressure the U.S.to expel an enemy of Turkish President Recep Erdogan.

Federal prosecutors unsealed an indictment Monday charging two business associates of Michael T. Flynn with acting as agents of the Turkish government and described in remarkable detail how the three attempted to shape USA policy and public opinion to advance that country's interests.

He's provided "substantial assistance" to the investigation since then, according to a court filing from Mueller earlier this month, leading the special counsel to recommend no prison time.

According to the indictment, Alptekin paid Flynn's firm through wire transfers from a Turkish bank account in his name. The goal of the work was to get the United States to expel Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen from the country.

"The defendants sought to discredit and delegitimize the Turkish citizen in the eyes of politicians and the public, and ultimately to secure the Turkish citizen's extradition", says the indictment. But the Turkish foreign minister claims Trump administration officials are now working on a plan to extradite Gulen, and reportedly even considered doing so as a bargaining chip to persuade Erdoğan to back down from his standoff with Saudi Arabia over the suspected political murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The indictment alleges that conversation at the meeting "centered on [Gulen] and the Turkish government's efforts to convince the US government to extradite the Turkish citizen to Turkey". He was released on bond and is due to be arraigned Tuesday at 10 a.m. Robert Trout, an attorney for Kian, told Al-Monitor today he had no comment at this time.

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. 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.

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The Alliance for Shared Values, a non-profit organization affiliated with Gulen, said in a statement on Monday that the indictments illustrated "just how far the Erdogan government will go in breaking United States law".

In 2016, Flynn famously penned an op-ed in The Hill in which he advocated for Gulen's extradition.

"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 revelation of the indictment, which was unsealed on Monday, comes on the eve of the retired three-star general Flynn's sentencing hearing.

"The arrow has left the bow!"

The six-count indictment was filed by prosecutors with the Eastern District of Virginia under seal on December 12, and unsealed today.

Flynn left the White House in February 2017 after it was revealed that he had lied about his conversation with a Russian ambassador.

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