Turkish businessman charged with hiring Flynn for illegal lobbying surfaces

A Turkish man who is charged with paying General Michael T. Flynn $530,000 to lobby for Turkey in Washington D.C. in 2016 and wanted by the FBI has sent his lawyers to meet prosecutors in an ongoing criminal case at a Virginia federal court, Politico reported on Friday.

In December, Ekim Alptekin was charged with conspiring with former Flynn business partner Bijan Rafiekian to extradite Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, the leader of a religious group the Turkish government accuses of orchestrating a coup attempt. Gülen has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since 1999. 

Flynn, U.S. President Donald Trump’s former National Security Adviser, admitted in 2017 that his company had received payments from the Turkish government to advance Ankara’s interests during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.

Two months after Flynn was fired, Alptekin was a keynote speaker at a conference on Turkish-American relations at Trump's hotel in Washington D.C., a move that MSNBC host and commentator Rachel Maddow said on Friday night segment that was another attempt to curry favour with the Trump administration.

And, the same month, Alptekin's lawyers contacted the office of Robert Mueller, the Special Counsel appointed to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections, and investigation that touched on Flynn's Russian contacts.

“The special counsel’s office did take that meeting … literally one week after Mueller was appointed, and that Turkish businessman, according to federal prosecutors … he lied to Mueller’s investigators, after he had volunteered that he wanted to talk to them.”

Alptekin is now under indictment for lying to federal investigators as a felony charge and other charges.

Alptekin is believed to be in Turkey and had become something of an afterthought as prosecutors prepared for a scheduled July 15 trial for Rafiekian, Politico said.

Attorneys for Alptekin on Thursday asked the U.S. district court in Virginia to allow them to seek to block a prosecution effort over Alptekin’s communications with an earlier legal team at law firm Arent Fox.

“Although Mr. Alptekin was indicted in this case, he has not appeared before this Court and no proceedings have moved forward as to Mr. Alptekin in this matter,” Politico quoted Alptekin’s current lawyers, Rodney Page and Jennifer Mammen as saying in a motion asking permission to make a “special appearance” on Alptekin’s behalf.

A spokesman for the federal prosecutors handling the case did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but Alptekin’s filings indicate the government plans to resist his attorneys’ attempt to be recognised by the court, Politico said. 

The new filings claim that, just a week after Robert Mueller was named as special counsel to investigate Russian interference into the 2016 presidential election, Alptekin’s Arent Fox lawyers set up the meeting voluntarily with Mueller’s team, Politico said.