U.S. prosecutors prepare for lobbying case, say Flynn involved in secret work with Turkey
(Updated in fifth and sixth paragraphs with government statement about new information and Flynn's lawyer's reaction.)
An exhibit list prepared by U.S. prosecutors for the upcoming trial of Bijan Rafiekian, a businessman accused of illegally lobbying for Turkey, includes e-mails between Rafiekian, his business partner and President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and Turkish businessman Ekim Alptekin, as well as photos of Turkish officials.
Alptekin and Rafiekian in December were charged with conspiring to extradite Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, the leader of a religious group the Turkish government accuses of orchestrating a coup attempt in 2016. Gülen has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since 1999.
The U.S. prosecutors have cancelled plans to call Flynn as a witness in the trial and now plan to portray him as co-conspirator, Reuters news agency reported on Tuesday.
Flynn 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.
On Friday, a court hearing related to the trial, which is set to begin on July 15, revealed that U.S. authorities have obtained information suggesting Flynn was involved in previously unknown, secret work for the Turkish government, CNN reported.
Flynn's attoney, Sydney Powell, said the government's disclosure "smacks of desperation", adding that it was not possible that information received had not already been known by prosecutors. "As we have said in our recent filings, this can only be retaliation for his refusal to answer a question the way they wanted," Powell said.
The exhibit list of the U.S. prosecutors includes various e-mail correspondences of Flynn, Rafiekian, and Alptekin, including those related to briefings on Gülen.
Photographs of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, and former Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım are also in the exhibit list.
The list includes invoices of Alptekin’s Dutch firm Inovo BV, which signed a $600,000 contract in August 2016 with Flynn Intel Group to mount a public relations and lobbying campaign against Gülen.
Another exhibit is an Oct. 11, 2016 email exchange between Michael Boston who was working for the Flynn company at the time and Ali Cinar, the current president of the Turkish Heritage Organization, a recently founded AKP linked non-governmental organisation based in Washington D.C,
Some 41 items in the exhibition list are reserved.