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Mayer Brown Wins Political Asylum for Ethiopian Diplomat

3 February 2009

3 February 2009 – The Arlington Immigration Court granted political asylum to our client, Mr. A, a former Ethiopian diplomat who was represented pro bono by Gabrielle Butcher, an associate in our Washington office. 

Mr. A was subjected to years of harassment, intimidation and retaliation in his employment as a result of his refusal to join the repressive regime of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), his opposition to the discriminatory policies of the ruling party and his imputed affiliation with Ethiopia’s primary opposition party, the Coalition for Unity and Democracy.  He was also frequently threatened and accused of supporting the opposition party by his supervisor at the Ethiopian Consulate in the Netherlands, a former guerilla fighter.  Ultimately, the Ethiopian government terminated our client’s diplomatic post, and ordered him to return to the Ethiopia, after he published a series of articles criticizing the EPRDF’s violent response to public demonstrations over the May 2005 Ethiopian election results.  Fearing for his safety if he were to return, Mr. A fled to the United States and requested asylum.   

At the close of the merits hearing, the Immigration Court ruled that Mr. A’s credible testimony, his pre-hearing memorandum and the “phonebook” of documentary evidence submitted in the case established a well-founded fear of future persecution by the Ethiopian government.  The evidence included affidavits from several other former Ethiopian diplomats who had obtained asylum in the United States, as well as Prof. Timothy Carmichael’s expert report detailing the human rights abuses in Ethiopia.

The Department of Homeland Security waived appeal in the case, rendering the grant of asylum final.

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