Oytun Ayse Mihalik, a Turkish citizen and former pharmacist of Orange County, California, has been in federal custody since August 2011 for wiring charitable contributions to Pakistan.
A federal complaint filed against her alleges that Mihalik knew the funds would be used to coordinate attacks against U.S. military oversees and that she had allegedly lied to federal employees, according to court documents. If convicted on all three counts of providing material support to terrorists and one count of making a false statement, Mihalik could face up to 53 years in prison.
In February of 2011, Mihalik traveled to her homeland, Turkey, where she spent six months with family before returning for a brief visit to the United States on 8 August. Upon her arrival, the 39-year-old La Palma resident was thoroughly interrogated and recorded regarding her travels and finances at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
Records show FBI and U.S.Homeland Security Investigators (HSI) questioned Mihalik about any money she may have sent overseas. An immigrant with extensive family and friends still residing in her native Turkey and abroad, she answered in the affirmative.
Despite the seemingly general questioning, the FBI and HSI were particularly interested in three transfers sent in December 2010 and January 2011 amounting to $2.050, inquiring as to whom the money was intended for and under what name(s) she had previously sent money.
According to an affidavit citing disjointed and often abruptly truncated portions of the transcribed interview, Mihalik did not deny that she sent money overseas and elaborated that the money was intended for friends and friends of relatives or friends of friends who were in financial need. Whether an inaccurate recollection or a nervous omission, Mihalik failed to mention the use of an alias for the transfers.
However, authorities allege that in two of the money transfers, Mihalik provided the name “Cindy Palmer” to transfer $600 and $700. In one of the wire transfers, an affidavit alleges, Mihalik had given the name “Cindy Palmer” for the transfer, yet still signed the receipt with her legal name, “Oytun Mihalik”.
On 27 August, Mihalik intended to return to Turkey permanently when federal officials detained her. When questioned regarding her one-way ticket, Mihalik explained she was moving back to Turkey and had not told her husband about it and that she called him to ‘say goodbye’ from the airport.
Although the initial charge filed against Mihalik concerned only the alleged false statement, following an investigation involving ‘classified’ material, a grand jury, and the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), prosecutors amended the original complaint and added charges of providing material support to terrorists.
Court records do not state how investigators determined the money was intended for “terrorist organizations” or which alleged organisations were to have benefited from the money, but prosecutors in court documents stated they planned to use aforementioned secret evidence, as well as electronic recordings and/or evidence retrieved under the controversial and unconstitutional FISA.
‘The government is in the process of reviewing a large volume of material in a foreign language to determine whether any of it is discoverable and/or will require court proceedings‘ one document read.
Five months after her arrest, Mihalik was arraigned on the supersceding charges in January and no further court dates are scheduled.
Defense attorney Alan Eisner said no new evidence has been offered up by prosecutors since his client’s arrest months ago, and the money sent overseas was donated to charity. ‘The evidence will show she’s not funding a terrorist organization,’ Mr Eisner said.
Oytun Ayse Mihalik #61427-112 MDC Los Angeles Metropolitan Detention Center PO Box 1500 Los Angeles, CA 90053 USA