Virginia News: ALEXANDRIA, Two Men Charged with Conspiracy and Acting as Agents of a Foreign Government

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – An indictment was unsealed today charging two men with conspiracy, acting in the United States as unregistered agents of the government of Turkey, and making false statements to the FBI.

According to allegations in the indictment, Bijan Rafiekian, aka Bijan Kian, 66, of San Juan Capistrano, California, and Kamil Ekim Alptekin, 41, of Istanbul, a Turkish national with close ties to the highest levels of the Government of Turkey, were involved in a conspiracy to covertly influence United States politicians and public opinion against a Turkish citizen living in the United States whose extradition had been requested by the Government of Turkey. The plot included using a company founded by Rafiekian and a person referred to as “Person A” in the indictment. The company, referred to as “Company A” in the indictment, provided services based upon Person A’s national security expertise.

The indictment charges that the purpose of the conspiracy was to use Company A to delegitimize the Turkish citizen in the eyes of the American public and United States politicians, with the goal of obtaining his extradition, which was meeting resistance at the U.S. Department of Justice. At the same time, the conspirators sought to conceal that the Government of Turkey was directing the work. However, not only did Turkish cabinet-level officials approve the budget for the project, but Alptekin provided the Turkish officials updates on the work, and relayed their directions on the work to Rafiekian, Person A, and others at Company A.

According to allegations in the indictment, the scheme included using a Dutch company owned by Alptekin to appear to be the “client” of Company A and to pay the company’s fee of $600,000, which was to be paid in three installments. Alptekin made the payments from an account in Turkey. The indictment alleges that after Alptekin made the payments to Company A, it was to kick back 20 percent of the payments to Alptekin’s company in the Netherlands, and two such kickbacks were made.

Rafiekian is charged with conspiracy and acting in the United States as an unregistered agent of the government of Turkey. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison for the conspiracy charge and 10 years in prison for the charge of acting as an agent of a foreign government.

Alptekin is charged with conspiracy, acting in the United States as an unregistered agent of the government of Turkey, and four counts of making false statements to the FBI. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison for the conspiracy charge, 10 years in prison for the charge of acting as an agent of a foreign government, and 5 years in prison for each of the four false statement charges.

Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, John C. Demers, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, and Nancy McNamara, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorney James P. Gillis and Trial Attorney Evan N. Turgeon of the Department of Justice’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section are prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:18-cr-457.

An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.


SOURCE: news provided by JUSTICE.GOV on Monday, December 17, 2018.