FBI quiz Trump adviser on ‘plot’ to deport cleric
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’