Flynn ac­cused of join­ing ab­duc­tion talk

An ex-CIA di­rec­tor says the for­mer se­cu­rity ad­viser was part of a Turk­ish plan to snatch a cleric.

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Chad Day

wash­ing­ton» For­mer CIA Di­rec­tor James Woolsey has ac­cused the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s for­mer na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser, Michael Flynn, of par­tic­i­pat­ing in a dis­cus­sion with Turk­ish of­fi­cials about pos­si­bly sub­vert­ing the U.S. ex­tra­di­tion process to re­move a Turk­ish cleric from the United States.

The Wall Street Jour­nal first re­ported Woolsey’s com­ments and posted a video in­ter­view with him late Fri­day. A Flynn spokesman said Fri­day that Woolsey’s claims are “false” and that “no such dis­cus­sion oc­curred.”

In the Jour­nal in­ter­view, Woolsey says he walked into the mid­dle of a dis­cus­sion be­tween Turk­ish of­fi­cials and mem­bers of Flynn’s firm, Flynn In­tel Group, late in the evening of Sept. 19 at Es­sex House ho­tel in New York City.

Woolsey said the dis­cus­sion gen­er­ally in­volved re­mov­ing cleric Fethul­lah Gulen from the U.S. with­out go­ing through the lengthy ex­tra­di­tion process, though he said it stopped short of out­lin­ing a spe­cific plan to sweep the cleric out of the coun­try. Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan has sought Gulen’s ex­tra­di­tion from the U.S. af­ter ac­cus­ing the cleric of di­rect­ing a failed coup last sum­mer. The U.S. gov­ern­ment has re­buffed that re­quest, and Gulen, who has a green card and lives in Penn­syl­va­nia, has de­nied in­volve­ment.

Woolsey de­scribed the dis­cus­sion as “brain­storm­ing, but it was brain­storm­ing about a very se­ri­ous mat­ter that would pretty clearly be a vi­o­la­tion of law.” Though, Woolsey noted that the dis­cus­sion “did not rise to the level of be­ing a spe­cific plan to un­der­take a felo­nious act.”

Flynn spokesman Price Floyd told The As­so­ci­ated Press that Flynn In­tel Group’s work never in­volved dis­cussing re­mov­ing Gulen from the United States by any means other than the ex­tra­di­tion process. He con­firmed that Woolsey at­tended the meet­ing but de­nied that it in­volved sub­vert­ing the le­gal process.

“The claim made by Mr. Woolsey that Gen­eral Flynn or any­one else in at­ten­dance dis­cussed phys­i­cal re­moval of Mr. Gulen from the United States dur­ing a meet­ing with Turk­ish of­fi­cials in New York is false,” Floyd said. “No such dis­cus­sion oc­curred, nor did Mr. Woolsey ever in­form Gen­eral Flynn that he had any con­cerns what­so­ever re­gard­ing the meet­ing, ei­ther be­fore he chose to at­tend and after­ward.”

The meet­ing was part of lob­by­ing work Flynn’s firm was con­duct­ing on be­half of a com­pany, Inovo BV, which is owned by Turk­ish busi­ness­man Ekim Alptekin.

Ear­lier this month, Flynn and his firm reg­is­tered with the Jus­tice Depart­ment as for­eign agents for the work for Alptekin, say­ing that it could have ben­e­fited the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment. Flynn’s firm was paid $530,000 over the course of the con­tract, which ran from Au­gust through Novem­ber while Flynn was a top Trump cam­paign ad­viser.

Alptekin has told the AP that Flynn’s firm reg­is­tered as a for­eign agent un­der pres­sure from the Jus­tice Depart­ment.

As the AP re­ported ear­lier this month, Flynn’s at­tor­neys twice dis­closed to ad­vis­ers to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump af­ter the elec­tion that it was likely Flynn would need to reg­is­ter as a for­eign agent for the work. The first dis­cus­sion was with the Trump tran­si­tion team while Flynn was be­ing con­sid­ered for the top na­tional se­cu­rity post. Af­ter Flynn joined the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, his at­tor­neys then in­formed the White House coun­sel’s of­fice that Flynn’s for­eign agent reg­is­tra­tion was im­mi­nent.

The White House has con­firmed both con­tacts.

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