Former CIA director James Woolsey pitched a $10m contract to two Turkish businessmen to help discredit a controversial US-based cleric while Woolsey was an adviser to Donald Trump’s election campaign, three people familiar with the proposal said.
Just eight days after joining Trump’s campaign as an adviser on national security issues, Woolsey met last year on 20 September with businessmen Ekim Alptekin and Sezgin Baran Korkmaz over lunch at the Peninsula Hotel in New York, they said.
Woolsey and his wife, Nancye Miller, proposed a lobbying and public relations campaign targeting Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric who lives in Pennsylvania.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accuses Gulen of instigating a failed coup in July 2016 and wants him extradited to Turkey to face trial. Gulen has denied any role in the coup.
In an email memo seen by Reuters, Woolsey and Miller sketched a plan to “draw attention to the cleric’s possible role in the coup attempt” and encourage an official investigation into his activities.
Alptekin, an ally of Erdogan, had already agreed through one of his companies to a $600,000 contract with the consulting firm of Michael Flynn to research Gulen.
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