Two former business associates of Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump‘s first national security adviser, were indicted Monday as part of a federal probe into Turkey’s clandestine 2016 effort to pressure the U.S. to extradite an exiled Turkish cleric.

Bijan Kian, a 66-year-old Iranian-American former board member of the U.S. Export-Import Bank, and 41-year-old Turkish national Kamil Alptekin — who also goes by the name Ekim — were indicted in Alexandria, Virginia. The two men were charged with conspiracy to violate federal lobbying rules, and Alptekin was also charged with lying to the FBI.

Kian — who served on Trump’s transition team in the division pertaining to the Director of National Intelligence — was released after Monday’s hearing and faces up to 15 years in prison. Meanwhile, Alptekin could serve up to 35 years behind bars.

Alptekin and Kian were reportedly involved as unregistered agents in a lobbying campaign to expel Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, a rival of President Recep Tayyip ErdoganThe pair attempted to hide the fact that Turkey’s government was spearheading the effort, and that top officials received regular updates about the plan from Alptekin. Meanwhile, Flynn’s company Flynn Intel Group earned $530,000 for its involvement in this project.

“The defendants sought to discredit and delegitimize the Turkish citizen in the eyes of politicians and the public,” the indictment said, per court filings.

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Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to federal investigators about his communications in 2016 with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey KislyakEarlier this month, special counsel Robert Mueller recommended no prison time for the former lieutenant general due to his “substantial assistance” with the investigation into Russian interference during the 2016 campaign. Flynn is expected to be sentenced Tuesday in Washington in federal court.

In his guilty plea last year, Flynn also confessed to prosecutors he had routinely violated laws that require companies to register their work on behalf of foreign clients.

 

Gulen is a Turkish clergyman living in Pennsylvania who was accused by Erdogan’s government of assisting in launching a failed coup. On Election Day 2016, Flynn — who at the time had been serving as an adviser to Trump’s campaign — penned an op-ed piece in The Hill criticizing Gulen titled “Our Ally Turkey Is In Crisis And Needs Our Support.”

In the article, Flynn described Gulen as a “shady Islamic mullah” and a “radical Islamist.” Shortly after the piece’s publishing, the Justice Department started investigating whether Flynn and his firm were working as paid lobbyists for the Turkish government.

See the full indictment here:

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