Michael Flynn’s former business partner is maintaining his innocence and headed to trial on charges that the two ran a secret, illegal influence campaign for the Turkish government.
Bijan Kian pleaded not guilty in federal court in Alexandria, Va., on Tuesday.
According to prosecutors, the Turkish government paid Kian and Flynn’s consulting firm hundreds of thousands of dollars to lobby for the extradition of prominent dissident Fethullah Gulen, using a Turkish businessman as a conduit.
That businessman, Ekim Alptekin, also was charged in an indictment unsealed Monday. Alptekin has denied any wrongdoing, saying through a spokeswoman that he launched the anti-Gulen campaign on his own.
“You don’t anticipate he’ll be joining us anytime soon?” Judge Anthony Trenga asked prosecutors Tuesday.
“I do not,” Assistant U.S. Attorney James Gillis replied. “To the best of our knowledge, he is in Turkey.”
Kian’s trial is set for Feb. 11. But prosecutors said they plan to introduce classified evidence, and his attorney, Robert Trout, said he would seek evidence from abroad. Both will almost certainly cause delays. A status hearing is set for Jan. 3.