In documents unsealed Tuesday, the government says it will not call Michael Flynn as a witness in the trial of Bijan Rafiekian and Kamil Alptekin but will instead name him as a co-conspirator.
The revelation came in a government notice in the federal court in the Eastern District of Virginia that the prosecutors planned to correct its past statements that Flynn would testify and was not a co-conspirator.
Rafiekian, of San Juan Capistrano, Calif, and Alptekin, of Istanbul, are former business partners of Flynn’s. The two were charged with conspiracy to covertly lobby politicians against a Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, living in the US, and have him extradited from the US to Turkey.
Turkey’s president has accused Gulen of directing a failed coup in that country.
The allegations against Rafiekian and Alptekin include that they acted as illegal agents of the government of Turkey, and making false statements to the FBI. The men were accused of covertly lobbying politicians against
Flynn, the former National Security Advisor to President Trump, pled guilty in federal court in District of Columbia in December 2017 to lying to the government on issues unrelated to Rafiekian and Alptekin.
The latest disclosures of the government’s change of position, drew the interest of U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, who has not yet sentenced Flynn. Sullivan wants to know more about this latest revelation.
On Tuesday, Sullivan ordered the government to file by Wednesday at 5pm an explanation how the unsealed records in the Rafiekian case might affect Sullivan’s upcoming sentencing of Flynn based on his 2017 guilty plea.
The Alleged Conspiracy
In 2016, while Flynn worked as an advisor to the Trump campaign, he allegedly participated with his former partners in a “truth campaign” that had compared Gulen to Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini.
Since Flynn’s guilty plea in 2017, the prosecutors have had unlimited access top him as a cooperating witness and interviewed him about the facts of the case. It was based in large part on those interviews that Rafiekian was indicted, according to the unsealed court papers by Rafiekian’s defense team.
As recently as April 10, the government supplied Rafiekian’s lawyers a list of potential witnesses who would be considered co-conspirators. Flynn’s name was not on the list, the defense papers state.
Even after being asked by Rafiekian’s defense in June if Flynn was considered a co-conspirator, the government said no. But then on July 3, the prosecutors told the court they wished to correct their position and labeled Flynn a co-conspirator.
The defense argues Flynn’s earlier interviews can’t be believed and that he should be barred from be called as a witness.
The trial is set to begin July 15.