Ex-Trump aide Flynn probed in alleged plot to abduct Gulen from US: Reports
US special counsel Robert Mueller, who is looking into possible collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia, is also investigating an alleged plan by former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to kidnap US-based Turkish dissident Fethullah Gulen, according to reports in US media.
Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania, is blamed by the Turkish government for orchestrating a failed coup last year. He denies the accusations, but President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly called for his extradition.
Flynn was fired in February for failing to disclose that he had discussed US sanctions on Russia with Moscow’s ambassador in Washington before Trump took office.
The alleged plot to abduct Gulen surfaced in March when ex-CIA James Woolsey revealed that at a meeting in September 2016, Flynn talked about “a covert step in the dead of night to whisk this guy away”.
Allegedly, Flynn and his son would have received $15m for returning Gulen to Turkey, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday, citing anonymous sources.
Now Mueller, whose investigation resulted in three indictments for Trump aides last month, is looking into the ostensible plan to kidnap Gulen.
Last week, several US media outlets reported that Mueller may have enough evidence to bring charges against Flynn in the collusion investigation.
US Justice Department documents revealed earlier this year that Flynn was paid $530,000 for lobbying work that "benefited the Republic of Turkey". The retired general's firm was hired by a pro-government Turkish businessman.
In an article published in the Hill newspaper last year, Flynn painted Gulen as a "radical Islamist".
"From Turkey's point of view, Washington is harbouring Turkey's Osama bin Laden," Flynn wrote.
Flynn, a retired general, campaigned vigorously for Trump before the real estate mogul was elected president. He has a history of making anti-Muslim statements.
"Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL," he tweeted in February 2016.
Flynn’s lawyer Robert Kelner denied the Gulen plot reports on Friday.
"Out of respect for the process of the various investigations regarding the 2016 campaign, we have intentionally avoided responding to every rumor or allegation raised in the media," Kelner told Reuters emailed statement.
"But today's news cycle has brought allegations about General Flynn, ranging from kidnapping to bribery, that are so outrageous and prejudicial that we are making an exception to our usual rule: they are false."