A jury on Tuesday convicted a one-time business partner of former national security adviser Michael Flynn on charges he illegally acted as a Turkish agent when he and Flynn undertook a project to discredit an exiled cleric wanted by Turkey's government. Bijan Kian, 67, was convicted on charges of conspiracy and acting as a foreign agent, according to Josh Stueve, a spokesman for the US attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 18, the AP reports. The convictions came despite comments by the judge made outside the jury's presence that the government's evidence was weak. The jury concluded that Kian, whose full name is Bijan Rafiekian, worked to conceal Turkey's involvement in the contract, which targeted Fethullah Gulen. The cleric is blamed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for a failed coup there in 2016.
Prosecutors made their case without testimony from Flynn, who had initially been expected to be the government's star witness. The case against Kian spun off from special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and whether the Trump campaign coordinated with the Russians. Flynn pleaded guilty to making false statements in a separate case, and admitted in that case that he lied about Turkey's involvement in the contract. Flynn's own sentencing was put on hold in part to gauge his level of cooperation with prosecutors in the Kian case. Flynn's lawyers have complained that prosecutors had no good reason to reverse course on putting Flynn on the stand and have worried that the decision to label Flynn as an unindicted coconspirator will hurt him at his own sentencing.
(Read more Michael Flynn