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U.S. Indicts Turkish-American Businessman Arrested In Armenia For 2013 Congress Trip

Turkish American activist Kemal Oksuz is questioned by Armenian police on August 29.

U.S. authorities have unsealed an indictment against a Turkish-American businessman charged with lying to congressional investigators regarding a trip by U.S. lawmakers to Azerbaijan five years ago.

The indictment, which was handed down in April, was released on September 24, about three weeks after the businessman, Kemal Oksuz, was arrested in Armenia on a U.S. warrant.

Oksuz, a Houston-based businessman who used to run two organizations -- Turquoise Council of Americans and Eurasians and the Assembly of the Friends of Azerbaijan -- was charged by the grand jury with lying on congressional disclosure forms regarding the 2013 all-expenses-paid visit to Azerbaijan made by 10 members and 32 staffers of Congress.

According to the five-count indictment, the trip was funded with the help by Azerbaijan's state-run SOCAR oil company, which provided $750,000 toward the effort.

Armenian police announced last month that Oksuz had been detained in the country, and they later released a video of his police interrogation. In the video, Oksuz said that SOCAR covered the travel expenses of the U.S. officials and gave them expensive gifts in 2013.

"That may have been corruption, I don't know," he said.

It was not immediately clear when Oksuz fled to Armenia, or why; Armenia has long had strained relations with both Azerbaijan and Turkey.

As of September 26, Oksuz remained in police custody in Armenia.

After U.S. news reports in 2015 raised questions about the funding of the trip, several of the U.S. lawmakers returned some of the gifts that they had received as part of the trip.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Armenian and Azerbaijani services