Testimony given before a US court by retired FBI agent Brian McCauley revealed that he was asked to get ahold of classified FBI information on US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, whom the Turkish government accuses of masterminding a failed coup in 2016, the Politico website reported on Wednesday.
McCauley testified in the trial of Bijan Rafiekian, who is charged with secretly working as an agent of Turkey in the US.
Rafiekian was a business partner of Michael Flynn, whose consulting firm, Flynn Intel Group, was hired during the 2016 election campaign to publicly disparage Gülen while Flynn was also serving as Donald Trump’s top foreign policy adviser.
McCauley and other retired FBI agents hired by the Flynn firm were reportedly uncomfortable with the requests made by Rafiekian.
“He asked me if I had access to records against Gülen. … FBI classified records,” McCauley said. “I said, ‘No, I don’t. I’m retired. … I no longer have that access.”
He said he also declined requests to conduct visual and audio surveillance of Gülen supporters in the US.
McCauley said at one point Rafiekian asked him to meet with Representative Dana Rohrabacher of California and tell him Gülen was a terrorist.
“I would not commit to that,” the former FBI agent said. “I refused. … I wasn’t going to compromise myself by saying something like that.”
McCauley also said Ekim Alptekin, a Turkish businessman and the former head of a Turkish-US business council, made clear he wanted new, derogatory information on Gülen. “I’m looking for dirt,” the FBI agent quoted Alptekin as saying.
Rafiekian was indicted in December on charges of acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign government in the US and conspiring to provide false information to the Justice Department in a Foreign Agent Registration Act filing belatedly submitted in 2017.
Flynn’s firm was hired by Inovo BV, a Dutch firm controlled by Alptekin. While Flynn’s role has been a prominent topic at Rafiekian’s trial, he is not charged in the case. As part of a plea deal cut in 2017 with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office, the government agreed not to prosecute Flynn for anything related to the Turkey-focused lobbying.