Turkish businessman seeks reprieve in Flynn lobbying case in U.S. – Daily Caller

A Turkish businessman who was an associate of former U.S. National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and was indicted on charges of illegal foreign lobbying is seeking a reprieve, citing the Justice Department’s recent move to throw out charges against Flynn, the Daily Caller said. 

Ekim Alptekin, a former Flynn client, along with Bijan Rafiekian, a former executive at Flynn Intel Group, were indicted in December 2018 on charges that they secretly lobbied on behalf of the Turkish government, acted as unregistered agents of Turkey, and conspired to conceal their efforts.

Alptekin also faces four counts of making false statements to the FBI.

Alptekin claimed to be collateral damage in the U.S. investigation of Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in December 2017 and agreed to fully cooperate with the Mueller Investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

Months later, with a new defence team which argued that the FBI had entrapped their client, Flynn attempted to withdraw his guilty plea.

The Justice Department filed a motion to withdraw the charges on May 7, after a prosecutor had recommended the charges be dropped over a failure by the U.S. Justice Department to turn over FBI documents to Flynn’s legal team. 

Rafiekian was convicted at trial on July 23, 2019, but the judge presiding over the case reversed the decision two months later. The Justice Department is appealing the decision, but Rafiekian’s lawyers have sent a letter asking the Justice Department to drop the appeal in light of its withdrawal of charges against Flynn.

The Daily Caller did not provide any details on how exactly Alptekin is seeking a reprieve.

Alptekin has not faced trial. He remains overseas - likely in Turkey - and has not been extradited. In the wake of the Flynn decision, Alptekin gave an interview to TRT World in which he claimed to be “collateral damage” because of his affiliation with Flynn.

“There is an organised effort to make me look like a criminal so that they can get to General Flynn. And my guess is they want to get to [U.S. President] Donald Trump,” he told TRT World.

Alptekin, the former chairman of the Turkish-U.S. Business Council, hired Flynn’s firm, Flynn Intel Group, in August 2016 to mount a public pressure campaign against Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish cleric living in the U.S. who the Turkish government blames for masterminding the failed 2016 coup. 

Alptekin hired Flynn Intel Group through a Dutch shell company called Inovo B.V., the Daily Caller said. Prosecutors alleged that Alptekin, who has close ties to the Turkish government, used the shell company to conceal the secret foreign lobbying effort.

On Aug. 9, 2016, Alptekin and Flynn signed a $600,000 contract for the campaign against Gülen, the Daily Caller said. 

As part of the contract, Flynn Intel Group put together an investigative team consisting of former intelligence operatives to investigate Gülen, the Daily Caller said. Rafiekian also met with congressional staffers as part of an effort to force Gülen’s extradition.

Alptekin also arranged a meeting between Flynn, Rafiekian and two high-ranking Turkish officials - Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu - on the sidelines of the U.N. general assembly in September 2016, where Gülen was discussed, the Daily Caller said. 

Flynn published an op-ed in The Hill on Nov. 8, 2016, election day, calling for Gülen’s extradition.