- Flynn engaged in a plot for $15 million to remove cleric from the U.S.
- Erdogan wants extradition of Gulen from U.S.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating former National Security Advisor to President Donald J. Trump, retired Gen. Michael Flynn, for his possible role in an alleged plot to remove a Turkish Muslim cleric living in Pennsylvania and deliver him to the Turkish government in return for huge sums of money, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.
Mr. Mueller who investigates claims of collusion between the Trump campaign team and Russia during the presidential campaign now expanded his probe into officials and advisors worked for the president.
According to The Wall Street Journal report, Mr. Mueller is investigating whether Mr. Flynn involved in a deal to earn as much as $15 million from the forceful kidnapping of cleric Fethullah Gulen from the U.S.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blames Mr. Gulen, who has lived in Pennsylvania in self-exile since the late 1990s and who is a legal permanent resident of the U.S., for a failed coup on July 15, 2016. Both the cleric and his supporters reject coup accusations.
— FOX Business (@FoxBusiness) November 10, 2017
The Turkish president unflinchingly demands extradition of Mr. Gulen from the U.S. administration, a demand that has so far gone unheeded as U.S. authorities ask for convincing evidence. Although Ankara says it has sent 80 dossiers of documents proving the cleric’s link to the coup, the U.S. administration regards them unconvincing from legal point of view
The retired general and his son, Michael Flynn Jr., met with Turkish officials in December last year at a time when Mr. Flynn had already been designated as national security advisor to Mr. Trump after the election. The former advisor allegedly discussed “the possibility of transporting Mr. Gulen on a private jet to the Turkish prison island of Imrali,” according to The Wall Street Journal report.
At a previous meeting in September last year, Mr. Flynn, former CIA Director James Woolsey, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Energy Minister Berat Albayrak, who is also President Erdogan’s son-in-law, first broached the subject and discussed how to do it, former CIA Director told The Wall Street Journal back in March.
Mr. Woolsey then elaborated on the content of the plan, and described it as a “covert step in the dead of night to whisk this guy away.”
The former CIA Director felt uncomfortable with the discussed scheme and informed then-Vice President Joe Biden through a mutual friend, the newspaper then reported.
The Mueller team also questioned Mr. Woolsey late last month to parse details of the meeting and the kidnapping plan.
“Ambassador Woolsey and his wife have been in communication with the FBI regarding the Sept. 19, 2016 meeting Ambassador Woolsey was invited to attend by one of Gen. Flynn’s business partners,” his spokesman Jonathan Franks said in a statement.
“Ambassador Woolsey and his wife have responded to every request, whether form the FBI, or more recently, the Office of the Special Counsel.”