Flynn lawyer denies reports of quid pro quo plan to deliver cleric to Turkey

Michael Flynn prior to a news conference in Washington in a file photo. (Reuters)
Updated 11 November 2017
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Flynn lawyer denies reports of quid pro quo plan to deliver cleric to Turkey

WASHINGTON: The lawyer for former US national security adviser Michael Flynn has labeled as “outrageous” and “false” media reports suggesting his client may have been involved in an alleged plan to seize a Muslim cleric and deliver him to Turkey in exchange for millions of dollars.
The rare statement from lawyer Robert Kelner came after the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller was investigating an alleged proposal under which Flynn and his son would receive up to $15 million for seizing Fethullah Gulen from his US home and delivering him to the Turkish government. The Journal cited people familiar with the investigation.
NBC also reported on Friday about an alleged December 2016 meeting, saying Mueller’s team was investigating whether Flynn met with senior Turkish officials in the weeks before President Donald Trump’s January 2017 inauguration about a possible quid pro quo in which Flynn would be paid to do the bidding of Turkey’s government while in office. NBC cited multiple people familiar with the probe.
“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,” Kelner said in an emailed statement.
“But today’s news cycle has brought allegations about Gen. Flynn, ranging from kidnapping to bribery, that are so outrageous and prejudicial that we are making an exception to our usual rule: They are false.”
The Wall Street journal reported that the alleged plan involving Flynn and Turkish officials emerged during Mueller’s wider investigation of possible Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and any collusion by the Trump campaign.
Flynn was fired by Trump after just 24 days in the job for misleading Vice President Mike Pence about the extent of his conversations with then Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak last year.
Barry Coburn, a lawyer for Flynn’s son, Michael Flynn Jr., declined to comment.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan accuses Gulen of instigating a failed coup in July 2016 and wants him extradited to Turkey to face trial. Gulen has denied any role in the coup. A spokesman for Mueller’s team declined to comment on the report on Friday.
Flynn is a central figure in Mueller’s investigation because of conversations he had with Kislyak and because he waited until March to retroactively register with the Justice Department as a foreign agent for work he did for a Turkish businessman.
The Journal reported that FBI agents asked at least four people about a December meeting in New York where Flynn and Turkish government representatives discussed removing Gulen, citing people with knowledge of the FBI’s inquiries.
NBC also reported that investigators had questioned witnesses about an alleged December meeting between Flynn and Turkish officials where Gulen was discussed. The group also discussed how to set free a Turkish-Iranian gold trader, Reza Zarrab. Zarrab is in prison in the US on federal charges that he helped Iran skirt US sanctions, NBC said.
A Reuters report on Oct. 26 said one of Flynn’s business associates, former CIA Director James Woolsey, pitched a $10 million contract to two Turkish businessmen to help discredit Gulen while Woolsey was an adviser to Trump’s election campaign.
Woolsey was a member of Flynn’s firm, the Flynn Intel Group, according to a Justice Department filing by the firm and an archive of the company’s website.
Mueller’s team has also interviewed White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, the highest-level Trump aide known to have spoken with investigators, CNN reported on Thursday.


China expects Taiwan’s last Africa ally will switch to Beijing soon

Updated 15 min 45 sec ago
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China expects Taiwan’s last Africa ally will switch to Beijing soon

  • Taiwan, which China claims as a wayward province with no right to state-to-state relations, now has formal ties with only 17 countries
  • China’s hostility to Taiwan has grown since President Tsai Ing-wen’s election

BEIJING/TAIPEI: China expects self-ruled Taiwan’s last diplomatic ally in Africa, the Kingdom of eSwatini, will switch to Beijing soon, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Wednesday, a day after China won over the third Taipei ally in a year.
Taiwan, which China claims as a wayward province with no right to state-to-state relations, now has formal ties with only 17 countries, many of them small, less developed nations in Central America and the Pacific, including Belize and Nauru.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, who has vowed not to bow to Chinese pressure, came under opposition criticism on Wednesday amid calls for a more friendlier policy toward Beijing.
Taiwan vowed on Tuesday to fight China’s “increasingly out of control” behavior after Taipei lost another ally to Beijing when El Salvador became the third country to switch allegiances to China this year.
Ahead of next month’s summit between China and African leaders in Beijing, China has been upping the pressure on Taiwan’s last remaining ally on the continent, eSwatini, formerly known as Swaziland, to come over to China’s side, diplomatic sources say.
Speaking to reporters in Beijing about the summit, Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Chen Xiaodong that eSwatini did not have relations with China “for reasons that everyone knows.”
“We look forward to and hope that all African nations, with none left behind, can take part in positive China-Africa cooperation, and become a member of the largest family get together,” Chen said.
“I believe that this is not just the pursuit of China, it is also a widespread shared expectation of African nations. I believe that this target can in the not too distant future be realized,” he added, without elaborating.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has vowed not to bow to Chinese pressure, Taipei has accused Beijing of offering generous aid and loan packages to lure its allies across, charges China denies.
The island’s biggest opposition group, the China-friendly Kuomintang (KMT), urged for a “better alternative” following what it described as “enormous mistakes” in Tsai’s cross-strait policy.
“The ruling party has the responsibility to think of a better cross-strait policy ...The relations with China have turned stagnant and were frozen,” KMT’s spokesman Mong-kai Hung said.
Yu-fang Lin, a KMT lawmaker who leads the diplomacy and defense committee in the Taiwan parliament, urged Tsai to recognize the “one China” principle, an agreement reached between Beijing and then-ruling KMT in 1992, under which both agreed there is only one China, with each having their own interpretation of what that means.
“She should bravely tell her supporters they need a friendlier policy to China, this way there would be more support for her,” Lin said.
China’s hostility to Taiwan has grown since Tsai’s election as Beijing fears she wishes to push for the island’s formal independence, a red line for China. She says she wants to maintain the status quo but will defend Taiwan’s democracy.
State-run Chinese newspaper the Global Times said in a Wednesday editorial that China did not have to “pay a fortune to steal Taiwan’s ‘allies’.”
“Many of the island’s ‘allies’ have a larger trade volume with China than with Taiwan. Their establishment of diplomatic ties with the Chinese mainland is an irresistible trend. It is only a matter of time before Taiwan has zero ‘allies.’”