Prosecutors drop charges against Bijan Kian, a onetime business partner of Michael Flynn

Sep 11, 2023, 1:12 PM

FILE - Bijan Kian, whose full name is Bijan Rafiekian, leaves the FBI Washington Field Office, Dec....

FILE - Bijan Kian, whose full name is Bijan Rafiekian, leaves the FBI Washington Field Office, Dec. 17, 2018, in Washington. On Monday, Sept. 11, 2023, federal prosecutors dropped charges against Kian, a onetime business partner of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who had been accused of acting as an unregistered agent of the Turkish government. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AP) — Federal prosecutors on Monday dropped charges against Bijan Kian, a onetime business partner of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn who had been accused of acting as an unregistered agent of the Turkish government.

Monday’s decision ends a five-year legal saga for Kian, whose case received significant attention when he was charged in 2018 as a spinoff from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian election interference.

Prosecutors alleged that Kian and Flynn, who were partners in an entity called the Flynn Intel Group, were acting at Turkey’s behest when they undertook a project to discredit exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen. Gulen has been sought for extradition from the U.S. by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who blames Gulen for an attempted coup in that country.

Flynn wrote a November 2016 op-ed piece, shortly before he was named to be then-President-elect Donald Trump’s national security adviser, comparing Gulen to former Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Prosecutors said Turkey directed the effort and pointed to a series of irregular payments flowing back and forth between Kian and an alleged Turkish middleman, businessman Kamal Alptekin.

Kian was initially convicted in a 2019 jury trial. But Judge Anthony Trenga, who heard the case, later tossed out the conviction and ordered a not guilty verdict, saying there was no substantial evidence that he agreed to operate at the Turkish government’s direction or that Alptekin was an intermediary for Turkey.

The government’s case had been thrown into disarray at the outset of trial when it decided not to call Flynn, who was expected to be prosecutors’ 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 cooperating 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.

The government appealed Trenga’s decision, and the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sent the case back to Trenga to reinstate the conviction. The appeals court left only a narrow path for Trenga to order a new trial if he could outline in detail why the evidence failed to support a conviction.

Last year Trenga issued a 51-page ruling ordering that new trial. Among other factors, he cited evidence that an actual conspiracy involved Flynn and Alptekin, with Kian excluded from the arrangement.

Prosecutors had initially seemed prepared to pursue a new trial, which was scheduled to begin in October. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Virginia declined to comment on why prosecutors decided to drop the case.

Mark MacDougall, one of the lawyers for Kian — whose full last name is Rafiekian — said in a written statement that his client is grateful that the judge set aside the jury’s verdict.

“The Justice Department has finally conceded that this case should never have been indicted. Mr. Rafiekian has been the target of baseless federal prosecution for the past five years, only because he made the poor decision to be in business with Michael Flynn,” MacDougall said.

Flynn, who received a presidential pardon in 2020, became a chief promoter of Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

National News

Associated Press

A woman died after falling from a cliff at a Blue Ridge Parkway scenic overlook in North Carolina

BLACK MOUNTAIN, N.C. (AP) — A South Carolina woman died after falling from a scenic overlook along the Blue Ridge Parkway in western North Carolina, according to the National Park Service. Park service dispatchers received a report of a woman who fell down a steep cliff at Glassmine Falls Overlook on Saturday afternoon, officials said […]

59 minutes ago

Associated Press

Not again. Federal workers who’ve weathered past government shutdowns brace for yet another ordeal

WASHINGTON (AP) — John Hubert, an airport security officer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, recalls helping fellow Transportation Security Administration workers get essentials from food banks when they worked without pay during the last government shutdown. By the end of the 35-day ordeal, he needed the same help himself. Steve Reaves, a union leader for workers […]

1 hour ago

FILE - President Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden leaves after a court appearance, July 26, 2023, in Wi...

Associated Press

Hunter Biden sues Rudy Giuliani and another lawyer over accessing and sharing of his personal data

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hunter Biden sued Rudy Giuliani and another attorney Tuesday, saying the two wrongly accessed and shared his personal data after obtaining it from the owner of a Delaware computer repair shop. The lawsuit was the latest in a new strategy by Hunter Biden to strike back against Republican allies of Donald Trump, […]

1 hour ago

KYIV, UKRAINE - 2022/09/03: A man looks at an image generated based on the stories of displaced chi...

Associated Press

Tech companies try to take AI image generators mainstream with better protections against misuse

Artificial intelligence tools that can conjure whimsical artwork or realistic-looking images from written commands started wowing the public last year. But most people don't actually use them at work or home.

2 hours ago

Alyssa Milligan participates in the Bike Ride Across Wilson County in conjunction with the Tennesse...

Associated Press

New cars are supposed to be getting safer. So why are fatalities on the rise?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Alyssa Milligan was someone who intuitively knew when another person needed help, encouragement or a kind word. Although she was new to Tennessee, the 23-year old physical therapy student, whose mother called her “Sweet Alyssa,” had already made many close connections, especially within the tight-knit cycling community around Nashville — before […]

10 hours ago

Bridge to Calculus summer program participants, from left, Steven Ramos, Kevin Dang, Kevin Tran, Pe...

Associated Press

America’s poor math skills raise alarms over global competitiveness

BOSTON (AP) — Like a lot of high school students, Kevin Tran loves superheroes, though perhaps for different reasons than his classmates. “They’re all insanely smart. In their regular jobs they’re engineers, they’re scientists,” said Tran, 17. “And you can’t do any of those things without math.” Tran also loves math. This summer, he studied […]

11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife...

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September is a busy month on the sports calendar and also holds a very special designation: Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

Ziply Fiber...

Dan Miller

The truth about Gigs, Gs and other internet marketing jargon

If you’re confused by internet technologies and marketing jargon, you’re not alone. Here's how you can make an informed decision.

Education families...

Education that meets the needs of students, families

Washington Virtual Academies (WAVA) is a program of Omak School District that is a full-time online public school for students in grades K-12.

Emergency preparedness...

Emergency planning for the worst-case scenario

What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night and heard an intruder in your kitchen? West Coast Armory North can help.

Innovative Education...

The Power of an Innovative Education

Parents and students in Washington state have the power to reimagine the K-12 educational experience through Insight School of Washington.

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

Prosecutors drop charges against Bijan Kian, a onetime business partner of Michael Flynn