Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s former business partner Bijan Rafiekian was convicted by an Alexandria, Virginia jury of conspiracy and acting as an unregistered agent for Turkey after a weeks long trial. However, Flynn’s defense attorney, Sidney Powell told SaraACarter.com “the unprecedented conviction is ripe for reversal.”
Rafiekian was Flynn’s former business partner in his security firm Flynn Intel Group. He was hired by Flynn 2016 and the project was their first business venture. Rafiekian, had advocated for the extradition of cleric Fethullah Gulen. Gulen lives in the United States and has an estimated net worth of $500 million a year, according to the court. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Ergodan has accused Gulen of terrorism but internal Turkish politics have made the situation and information on Gulen difficult to ascertain.
Rafiekian was convicted, despite prosecutors having no evidence of the government of Turkey funding the project. Prosecutors argued that Dutch-Turkish businessman Kamil Ekim Alptekin was acting as a conduit for Turkish government officials. Although there was evidence of reported communications between Alptekin and the Turkish officials there was no evidence that any official was giving any direction or controlling the work of Flynn Intel Group.
Powell, Flynn’s current attorney, said the conviction against Rafiekian should have no effect on Flynn. She spoke to SaraACarter.com shortly after the trial. Powell replaced Flynn’s former attorney’s Robert Kelner and Stephan Anthony, with Covington and Burling, in June. Kelner was first hired by Flynn in early 2017 because he was considered the leading Foreign Agents Registration Act expert in the country. Flynn Intel Group paid Covington over $380,000 to file the FARA with the DOJ, according to court testimony.
“The Rafiekian conviction in the Eastern District of Virginia today should have no effect on General Flynn,” said Powell. “Flynn has been cooperating with the government for two years. Obviously the government did not need his testimony to get a conviction.
The conviction of Mr. Rafiekian is unprecedented-factually and legally.”
Powell noted that “significantly, the judge never even found enough evidence of a conspiracy to admit coconspirator hearsay. General Flynn was not a witness.”
“I remain very concerned about the government’s abuse of power and over-criminalization of innocent business conduct,” she said. “No one understood the statute, and Covington partner Rob Kelner described the area of the FARA law as “murky. The government could not articulate the elements of the offenses it alleged, nor did it have any evidence to support its own definition of what was “material” in the case.”
Powell said the case “is ripe for reversal by the district court or on appeal. It will not withstand scrutiny any more than did the government’s prosecutions of Arthur Andersen LLP or the Merrill Lynch executives in United States v. Brown-reversed by the Fifth Circuit.”
“Regardless of the results of this case, General Flynn fulfilled his cooperation agreement with the government,” Powell said.
Covington, however, was under extraordinary pressure by former head of chief of the DOJ’s National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section David Laufman to file the FARA. Heather Hunt with the Department of Justice FARA division was also applying extreme pressure to get the filing made. Kelner testified that this was his first client ever indicted for a FARA filing his office prepared and filed.
According to sources who spoke to SaraACarter.com in 2017, the FARA letter sent by the DOJ to Flynn Intel Group was complex, detailed and uncommon.
Meanwhile, in early July, Powell submitted a filing with the Eastern District of Virginia fighting the government’s proposal to ask the Court to deem Flynn a “co-conspirator.”
Her submission to the court also revealed that Flynn and his attorneys were under extreme pressure by Laufman in February, 2017, to file a Foreign Agents Registration Act.
There have been only seven people for Foreign Agents Registration Act since 1938.
UPDATE: An earlier version of this story omitted the word no in one paragraph. It now reads: Although there was evidence of reported communications between Alptekin and the Turkish officials there was (no) evidence that any official was giving any direction or controlling the work of Flynn Intel Group.