(Reuters) – A federal choose has overturned a jury verdict convicting a onetime enterprise accomplice of former U.S. nationwide safety adviser Michael Flynn of illegally lobbying for Turkey.
U.S. District Decide Anthony Trenga dominated that prosecutors failed to indicate that Bijan Rafiekian knowingly acted as a undercover agent for Turkey’s authorities below Ankara’s path or management, and hid his position from U.S. authorities.
“The decision was in opposition to the heavy weight of the proof,” the choose wrote in a 39-page determination on Tuesday.
A spokesman for U.S. Lawyer G. Zachary Terwilliger in Alexandria, Virginia stated that workplace is reviewing the choice.
Rafiekian, co-founder of the Flynn Intel Group consulting agency, had been convicted on July 23 after a weeklong trial.
“Bijan and his household are relieved and looking out ahead to getting on with their lives,” his lawyer Mark MacDougall stated. “Justice has been completed.”
Trenga’s determination units again U.S. Division of Justice efforts to thwart unauthorized lobbying for international governments by imposing such legal guidelines because the federal Overseas Brokers Registration Act (FARA).
On Sept. four, one other jury acquitted Greg Craig, who was White Home counsel below former President Barack Obama, of mendacity about his work for Ukraine.
That case arose from Particular Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference within the 2016 U.S. election.
The Justice Division has ramped up FARA enforcement since 2015, after bringing simply seven prison circumstances below that regulation within the prior half-century.
Rafiekian was accused of conspiring with Turkish-Dutch businessman Ekim Alptekin to foyer on Turkey’s behalf to influence the U.S. authorities to extradite dissident cleric Fethullah Gulen.
Turkey has blamed Gulen orchestrating a failed 2016 coup to topple President Tayyip Erdogan in 2016. Gulen lives in a fortified Pennsylvania compound.
Alptekin remained overseas throughout Rafiekian’s trial and has denied the allegations in opposition to him.
It was unclear how Trenga’s determination would have an effect on the prison case in opposition to Flynn, who lasted three weeks as U.S. President Donald Trump’s first nationwide safety adviser.
Flynn faces a scheduled Dec. 18 sentencing, after having pleaded responsible to mendacity about his conversations in December 2016 with Russian’s ambassador to the US about sanctions that Obama had imposed on Moscow.
Prosecutors referred to as off plans to have Flynn testify in opposition to Rafiekian, deciding as an alternative to painting the retired U.S. Military lieutenant basic as Rafiekian’s co-conspirator.
A lawyer for Flynn didn’t instantly reply to requests for remark.
Trenga stated if a federal appeals courtroom discovered sufficient proof to maintain Rafiekian’s conviction, he would grant a brand new trial, citing concern about his personal jury directions.
The case is U.S. v Rafiekian, U.S. District Courtroom, Japanese District of Virginia, No. 18-cr-00457.
Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Extra reporting by Nathan Layne; Enhancing by Bernadette Baum