Former natural security adviser Michael Flynn’s lobbying firm reportedly did not want anyone to know that his lobbying firm, the Flynn Intel Group, was working on a documentary commissioned by a Turkish businessman to help bolster Turkey’s image in the wake of a failed coup attempt in July 2016.
The businessman, Ekim Alptekin, is a member of a Turkish economic relations board run by an appointee of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Flynn’s firm was tasked with lobbying the US government to extradite Fetullah Gulen — a Turkish cleric living in Pennsylvania who Erdogan believes is responsible for planning last year’s attempted coup and, more generally, fomenting dissent inside Turkey.
Alptekin paid Flynn’s firm, the Flynn Intel Group, over $US500,000 to produce a documentary about the dangers of Gulen, which he had hoped would be “a small, ’60 Minutes’ kind of a thing, where these conclusions are brought to the public,” he told The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday. :We thought that might have a good effect.”
The former Vice News correspondent who was hired to work on the documentary, David Enders, told the Journal that he had been instructed to conceal Flynn Intel Group’s involvement in producing the film.
“‘We don’t want anyone to know the Flynn Intel Group has anything to do with this,'” Enders recalled the head of the firm, Bijan Kian, telling him at the time. He told the Journal that Kian asked him to hide the film equipment from the staff of the hotel they were doing interviews in.
“It was very hush-hush,” Enders told the Journal. “They were like Keystone Kops.”
Ultimately, the film was never finished. Neither Enders nor Kian responded to request for additional comment.
Flynn raised eyebrows when he wrote an op-ed article for The Hill, published November 8, alleging that Gulen helmed a “vast global network” that “has all the right markings to fit the description of a dangerous sleeper terror network.”
Flynn’s op-ed seemed out of place amid his work with the Trump campaign. His work for Inovo did not come to light until after he registered as a foreign agent with the Department of Justice in March — four months after his contract with Alptekin ended.
In his FARA (Foreign Agent Registration Act) filing, Flynn acknowledged that his firm had conducted research for Inovo that “focused on” Gulen. But it may have gone further than that: Flynn met with Turkish government ministers in September, where he reportedly discussed removing Gulen from US soil, according to former CIA Director James Woolsey, who was at the meeting.
Price Floyd, a former spokesman for Flynn, strongly denied that such a discussion ever took place, telling Business Insider at the time that Flynn was contracted by Inovo, in part, “to gather information on Gulen and turn it over to legal authorities to take action.”
Alptekin did not respond to request for comment. But he told The Associated Press earlier this year that he did not agree with Flynn’s decision to register as a foreign agent with the Department of Justice for his work with Inovo.
“It would be different if I was working for the government of Turkey, but I am not taking directions from anyone in the government,” Alpetkin said.
Still, Flynn said in his filing with the DOJ that his work for Inovo “could be construed to have principally benefited the Republic of Turkey.”
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