FBI quiz Trump ad­viser on ‘plot’ to de­port cleric

The Daily Telegraph - - World news - By Ben Ri­ley-smith US EDI­TOR

DON­ALD TRUMP’S for­mer na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser is re­port­edly be­ing ques­tioned by the FBI over claims he dis­cussed re­mov­ing a Turk­ish cleric from Amer­ica for mil­lions of dol­lars.

Michael Flynn met Turk­ish gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials last De­cem­ber to dis­cuss the plan, ac­cord­ing to claims be­ing looked at by the of­fi­cial in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the Trump cam­paign.

The al­leged plot would have seen Mr Flynn and his son paid $15mil­lion (£11 mil­lion) to re­move Fethul­lah Gulen, a Mus­lim cleric blamed by the Turk­ish au­thor­i­ties for a re­cent coup at­tempt, and fly him to the Turk­ish prison is­land of Im­rali. This was re­port­edly dis­cussed at a meet­ing at the 21 Club in New York weeks be­fore Mr Flynn en­tered the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The claims were made pub­lic by the Wall Street Jour­nal and broad­caster NBC, which cited nu­mer­ous sources.

Mr Flynn’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives de­clined to com­ment on the re­ports.

The news marks an­other dra­matic de­vel­op­ment in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Robert Mueller, the spe­cial coun­sel look­ing into links be­tween Mr Trump’s cam­paign and Rus­sia.

It has al­ready handed crim­i­nal charges to three for­mer Trump ad­vis­ers, one for ly­ing to the FBI and two for money laun­der­ing. Mr Trump de­nies any “col­lu­sion” with Rus­sia.

Mr Flynn was a Trump cam­paign ad­viser who served in the new ad­min­is­tra­tion be­fore he dra­mat­i­cally left of­fice af­ter a scan­dal about his Rus­sia con­tacts emerged. The re­tired gen­eral lasted just 24 days as na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser, re­sign­ing af­ter mis­lead­ing Mike Pence, the US vice pres­i­dent, about his meet­ings with a Rus­sian am­bas­sador.

Yes­ter­day, the al­le­ga­tions sur­faced about the plan, which is be­ing looked into by Mr Mueller’s op­er­a­tion.

Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan, the Turk­ish pres­i­dent, has blamed Mr Gulen, who lives in Amer­ica, for re­motely lead­ing a coup against his gov­ern­ment last sum­mer. Mr Gulen has de­nied any role.

The Wall Street Jour­nal re­ported that “at least four” peo­ple have been asked about the meet­ing by the FBI and added it is not clear how far the pro­posal went and that there was no sign that any pay­ments were made.

♦ Turk­ish au­thor­i­ties have de­tained 82 for­eign­ers in Is­tan­bul sus­pected of hav­ing links to Isil and plan­ning to go to Syria, as Turkey’s crack­down against the ji­hadist group widens.

Po­lice of­fi­cers have been con­duct­ing raids al­most daily against Is­lamic State of Iraq and the Le­vant cells across the coun­try, with in­creas­ing in­ten­sity in the past few weeks.

The state-run Anadolu news agency said the sus­pects had pre­vi­ously been in­volved with Isil fight­ers in “con­flict zones”, and were plan­ning to try to reach Syria “in the com­ing days”.

The al­leged plot would have seen Mr Flynn and his son paid $15 mil­lion to fly Fethul­lah Gulen to Turkey’

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