Flynn Rejects Claims He Was Plotting to Kidnap Turkish Cleric
The lawyer for former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn vehemently rejected media reports of a plot to kidnap a Muslim cleric living in the U.S. and deliver him to the Turkish government in return for millions of dollars.
Robert Kelner labeled media reports as “outrageous and false” in a statement denying a report by The Wall Street Journal. The newspaper on Friday reported that Special Counsel Robert Mueller was investigating Mr. Flynn for a plot to forcefully remove Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish Islamic scholar who lives in Pennsylvania in self-exile, and bring him to Turkey.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accuses Mr. Gulen of orchestrating July 15, 2016 coup attempt. The cleric and his supporters strongly deny those charges.
The Turkish government sent dossiers of documents to Justice Department trying to secure his extradition, but so far has failed to persuade the U.S. authorities over Mr. Gulen’s role in the putsch.
The Wall Street Journal report sent ripples across the U.S. political spectrum, prompting waves of debates about former aide of President Donald J. Trump.
“Out of respect for the process of the various investigations regarding the 2016 campaign, we have intentionally avoided responding to every rumor or allegation raised in the media,” Mr. Kelner said in a statement, according to Reuters.
“But today’s news cycle has brought allegations about General Flynn, ranging from kidnapping to bribery, that are so outrageus and prejudicial that we are making an exception to our usual rule: they are false,” he said in the same statement.
The revelations came to the fore during Mr. Mueller’s investigation into claims of collusion between the Trump campaign team and Russian officials during the presidential election campaign last year. In early August, media reports emerged that the Mueller’s team demanded documents from White House to unearth the full nature of Mr. Flynn’s ties to Turkey.
The retired general stayed only 23 days in his position as national security advisor. He was fired by President Trump after media reports revealed that he lied to Vice President Mike Pence about the content and nature of his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak.
In a meeting on Sept. 19, in 2016, Mr. Flynn, former CIA Director James Woolsey, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkish Ambassador to the U.S. Serdar Kilic, Energy Minister Berat Albayrak, who is also President Erdogan’s son-in-law, first raised the scheme.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Mr. Flynn and his son Michael Flynn Jr., allegedly met with the Turkish officials to further discuss the plot in advance. The former Trump aide was offered $15 million for the plan to kidnap Mr. Gulen and bring him back to Turkey in a private jet.
Before that, the former national security advisor signed a lobbying deal with Ekim Alptekin, a businessman with close to the Turkish president, for $500,000 to discredit Mr. Gulen in the U.S.