x

Politics

Appeal Court Reinstates Conviction of Flynn Partner for Acting as Agent of Turkey

FALLS CHURCH, Va. — A federal appeals court on Thursday reinstated the conviction of a one-time business partner of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn for acting as an unregistered agent of the Turkish government.

A jury in Alexandria convicted Bijan Kian at a 2019 trial. After the conviction, though, the trial judge, Anthony Trenga, intervened and overturned the conviction.

He ruled that there was no way a rational jury could have concluded from the evidence that Kian was a foreign agent acting under the control of Turkey.

Prosecutors' trial plans were thrown into disarray on the eve of trial when they opted against putting Flynn on the stand, even though he had been expected to be their star witness. Flynn acknowledged in a separate case that he made false statements about work he performed that benefited Turkey; he had hoped at one point that his cooperation with prosecutors in Kian's case would help him receive a lighter sentence in his own case. But he later sought to rescind his guilty plea and stopped cooperating with prosecutors. 

The case spun off from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian election interference.

Prosecutors alleged Kian and Flynn were acting at Turkey's behest when they undertook a project to discredit an exiled cleric, Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric living in the U.S.

Kian and Flynn were partners in the Flynn Intel Group. Gulen has been sought for extradition by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who blames Gulen for an attempted coup in that country.

Flynn wrote a November 2016 op-ed piece comparing Gulen to former Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Prosecutors said Turkey directed the effort through a middleman, businessman Kamil Alptekin, and pointed to a series of irregular payments flowing back and forth between Kian and Alptekin.

Trenga, though, said in his ruling that "there is no substantial evidence that Rafiekian agreed to operate subject to the direction and control of the Turkish government" and that there was no "competent evidence" that Alptekin was an intermediary for the Turkish government.

But the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, in a unanimous ruling, said Trenga should have been more deferential to the jury.

Judge James Wynn, an Obama appointee, wrote that the trial judge "gave insufficient deference to the 'almost invariable assumption of the law' that the jury was capable of following its … instructions."

Judges Paul Niemayer, a George H.W. Bush appointee, and Barbara Milano Keenan, an Obama appointee, joined in Wynn's opinion,

The appeals court also rejected granting Kian, also known as Bijan Rafiekian, a new new trial. So if the ruling is not appealed, Kian's case will go back to Alexandria for sentencing.

Kian's lawyers did not immediately respond to request for comment Thursday.

RELATED

WASHINGTON  — President Joe Biden and his national security team monitored Iran’s aerial attack against Israel on Saturday as U.

Top Stories

Columnists

A pregnant woman was driving in the HOV lane near Dallas.

General News

NEW YORK – Meropi Kyriacou, the new Principal of The Cathedral School in Manhattan, was honored as The National Herald’s Educator of the Year.

Video

Evzones March in the Rain to Greek Flag Raising at Bowling Green in NYC (VIDEO)

NEW YORK – The heavy rain did not deter the Hellenic Presidential Guard, the Evzones, and the participants in the march from St.

TENAFLY, NJ – The Greek-American community of New Jersey welcomed the members of the Hellenic Presidential Guard, the Evzones, at the Metropolitan Cathedral of St.

JERUSALEM  — Booms and air raid sirens sounded in Jerusalem early Sunday after Iran launched dozens of drones and ballistic missiles toward Israel in an unprecedented revenge mission that pushed the Middle East ever closer to a regionwide war.

NEW YORK – The heavy rain did not deter the Hellenic Presidential Guard, the Evzones, and the participants in the march from St.

JERUSALEM  — An incoming attack by Iranian drones and ballistic missiles poses the latest challenge to Israel’s air defense system, which already has been working overtime to cope with incoming rocket, drone and missile attacks throughout the six-month war against Hamas.

Enter your email address to subscribe

Provide your email address to subscribe. For e.g. [email protected]

You may unsubscribe at any time using the link in our newsletter.