Turkey objects to case against ex-Flynn partner over illegal lobbying

Turkish Presidential Spokesman Fahrettin Altun said that U.S. prosecutors are off base in bringing an ex-business partner of former national Security adviser Michael Flynn to trial on charges that he illegally lobbied on behalf of Turkey.

Bijan Kian, also known as  Bijan Rafiekian, is accused of hiding his ties to Turkey as he persuaded Flynn to write an op-ed piece critical of Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, the Associated Press reported.

Kian, along with Ekim Alptekin, a Turkish businessman regarded as close to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in December was charged with conspiring to extradite Gülen, the leader of a religious group the Turkish government accuses of orchestrating a coup attempt and designates a terrorist organisation. Gülen has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since 1999. The United States has so far sidestepped The United States has so far sidestepped Ankara’s repeated requests for the extradition of the cleric.

Altun told the Associated Press that it’s absurd to think that Turkey conspired against the United States, adding that portraying Gülen as a victim in the alleged scheme is “beneath contempt.”

Kian’s trial is set to begin on Monday.

Federal prosecutors in Virginia will portray Flynn as a “co-conspirator” along with Kian in the scheme to persuade U.S. politicians to support Turkey’s bid to extradite Gülen, Reuters said earlier this week.

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