A federal prosecutor on Monday dropped the indictment against California businessman Bijan Rafiekian, a member of former President Donald Trump’s 2016 transition team and a former business partner of Trump advisor Michael Flynn, on two counts of violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
“After carefully considering the Fourth Circuit’s recent decision in this case and the principles of federal prosecution, the United States believes it is not in the public interest to pursue the case against defendant Bijan Rafiekian further,” Assistant U.S. Attorney John Gibbs wrote in Monday’s filing with the United States Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
Gibbs asked the court to dismiss the two counts in the indictment “with prejudice,” meaning the decision to dismiss the case would be final.
“This case should never have been indicted,” Rafiekian’s attorney Mark MacDougall said in a statement to the Washington Post Monday. “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.”
Rafiekian was indicted in 2019 on two charges of acting as an agent on behalf of Turkey without registering with the U.S. and conspiring with co-defendant Kamil Ekim Alptekin and others to further that violation, according to documentation on Casetext.
The Post reported that Rafiekian was convicted on the charges in 2019, but was granted a new trial following an appeal in 2022.
“The strongest inference to be drawn from the evidence as a whole is that to the extent Turkey had recruited anyone as its agent, it was not Rafiekian, but Flynn because of his stature and his connections to then Presidential candidate Donald Trump,” the Post reported that U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga wrote when he initially reversed the trial court’s guilty verdicts. “In fact, the recruitment of Flynn, to the exclusion of Rafiekian, is precisely what is reflected in” the evidence, he said, including classified evidence that was only summarized vaguely for the public.
Flynn was supposed to testify against Rafiekian during the trial as part of an earlier plea agreement he made with federal prosecutors, but did not take the stand.
The Post reported that Flynn, who was pardoned by Trump in 2021, told the court through his lawyers that he had been “bullied” into his plea agreement in the case and that he’d told federal officials the truth about his work with Turkey.
Charles Kim ✉
Charles Kim, a Newsmax general assignment writer, is an award-winning journalist with more than 30 years in reporting on news and politics.
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