The federal investigation into US President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, retired general Michael Flynn, and his son as part of the probe into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election has revealed that the FBI refused a demand to review Turkey’s 2016 request to extradite Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, NBC News reported on Sunday.
“A former senior law enforcement official said that in the weeks after Trump’s inauguration the FBI was asked to conduct a new review of Turkey’s 2016 request to extradite Fethullah Gülen,” report said.
“The FBI pushed back on the request because Turkey had supplied no additional information that could incriminate Gülen following a review of the case during the Obama administration, the official said. It is unclear whether the request to investigate Gülen came from Flynn or through the typical diplomatic channels at the State Department.”
The team led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller has gathered sufficient evidence to bring charges in the investigation of Gen. Flynn, according to NBC.
In addition to seeking more information on the elder Flynn’s lobbying work, including whether he laundered money or lied to federal agents about his overseas contacts, the investigators are also examining whether Flynn attempted to orchestrate the removal from the US to Turkey of Fethullah Gülen, accused by Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of masterminding a failed coup in Turkey last July, in exchange for millions of dollars.
Gülen and the movement he inspired deny any involvement with the coup attempt.
The FBI is also investigating an account from former CIA Director James Woolsey to The Wall Street Journal and MSNBC that Flynn and Turkish officials had discussed a potential plan to forcibly remove Gülen from the US.
After being pushed out of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014 and retiring from the military, Michael Flynn founded lobbying firm the Flynn Intel Group, which was paid $530,000 last year for work the Justice Department says benefited the government of Turkey. Flynn had not registered as a foreign lobbyist during the time of that contract and did so retroactively only earlier this year.
According to Flynn’s filing with the Justice Department, the Flynn Intel Group was hired to gather information about Gülen and to produce a short film about its findings. Flynn reportedly had at least one meeting in September 2016 with Turkish officials at which former CIA Director Woolsey says a discussion about kidnapping Gülen and flying him to Turkey took place.
Ankara has long demanded the extradition of Gülen, a request that was renewed after the failed coup in July 2016. However, the Justice Department has reportedly not found sufficient evidence linking Gülen to the putsch, despite the boxes of documents Turkey has submitted to the US, claiming they back up their claim.
Any quid-pro-quo deal such as the alleged agreement between Flynn and Turkey would be illegal, officials said, according to the NBC report. (turkishminute.com)