By Renae Reints
December 18, 2018

A former associate of Michael Flynn pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and acting as an agent of a foreign government Wednesday.

Bijan Kian, also known as Bijan Rafiekian, worked as an intelligence adviser to the incoming Trump administration. He also co-founded the lobbying firm Flynn Intel Group with former national security adviser Flynn.

Kian and Turkish businessman Kamil Ekim Alptekin were indicted by federal prosecutors earlier this month for allegedly lobbying American politicians on behalf of the Turkish government beginning in July 2016.

According to the indictment, Kian and Flynn’s company was paid by the Turkish government via Alptekin for promoting the extradition of Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen. Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania, is believed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to have helped instigate a failed coup against the Turkish government in 2016.

Kian pleaded not guilty to the charges in a Virginia federal court Tuesday. He remains free without bail. U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenga set Kian’s next court date for February 11.

Alptekin, a resident of Istanbul, faces the same charges as Kian, plus an additional charge of lying to the FBI. He has not appeared in U.S. court, and while there remains a warrant for his arrest, federal prosecutors said they do “not anticipate” Alptekin will come to the U.S., CNN reports.

Flynn has been cooperating with federal prosecutors since pleading guilty to lying to the FBI last year. He has admitted to participating in the lobbying scheme, but has yet to face sentencing for his crimes.

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