U.S. lobbyists register as Turkey agents ahead of Erdoğan conference

U.S. lobbying firm Mercury Public Relations has submitted FARA applications for two of its employees to register them as agents working on Turkey’s behalf, as the firm helps organise a conference that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is expected to attend.

FARA – the Foreign Agents Registration Act – is a disclosure statute that requires persons acting as agents of foreign principals to publicly disclose such relationships.

Mercury’s applications for its two employees, Neha Sameer Sata and Louis J. Wilson, were received by the U.S. Department of Justice National Security Division on Tuesday, according to the application documents shared om social media by Citizens for Ethics researcher Eli Lee.

Wilson’s form states that he is “organizing the Turkey Investment Conference in New York with Turkish and U.S. business executives and Turkish government officials” for the Turkey-U.S. Business Council (TAİK), a business association with close ties to the Turkish government.

The conference will be held in New York on September 26, and will be attended by Erdoğan and the Turkish trade and finance ministers as well as a host of leading Turkish companies.

The TAİK president has described the conference as a crucial event to restore confidence in the Turkish lira, which has lost around 40 per cent of its value this year among serious concerns about Turkey’s economy.

Sata will assist TAİK through media monitoring services, research and analysis support services, the form said.

Mercury as a firm registered with FARA in February due to its work with TAİK.

The lobbying firm has previously been place under the spotlight due to its link to Paul Manafort, who directed the firm to work on behalf of the pro-Russian Ukrainian government that was deposed in the 2014 revolution.

Meanwhile, TAİK’s former president, Ekim Alptekin, employed Michael Flynn, a retired general who briefly served as U.S. President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser, to lobby on behalf of Turkey in exchange for $500,000.

Flynn had been asked to push for the extradition of Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish Islamist preacher living in self-imposed exile in the United States whose organisation the Turkish government blames for organising the 2016 coup attempt.

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