Federal authorities have arraigned a Snellville, Georgia man for allegedly lying to obtain U.S. citizenship.
The defendant, Mezemr Abebe Belayneh, 65, of Snellville, allegedly concealed his involvement in the late 1970s Red Terror period in Ethiopia, where he served as a civilian interrogator at a makeshift prison. A federal grand jury indicted him last month and charged him with two counts of unlawful procurement of naturalization.
This, according to a press release that staff for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia published on their website Monday.
“According to Acting U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine, the indictment, and other information presented in court: Mezemr Abebe Belayneh served as a civilian interrogator at a makeshift prison in Dilla, Ethiopia, during a period in the late 1970s known as the Red Terror,” the press release said.
“At the prison, Abebe ordered and participated in the severe physical abuse and interrogation of prisoners held on the basis of their political beliefs. The indictment alleges that Abebe unlawfully procured U.S. citizenship, to which he was not entitled, by concealing his involvement in the Red Terror when he falsely claimed that he had not persecuted anyone because of their political opinions and had never committed a crime for which he had not been arrested.”
A conviction would result in automatic revocation of Abebe’s U.S. citizenship, the press release said.
Members of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations investigated the case. The Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center (HRVWCC) provided coordination in the case, the press release said.
“Established in 2009, the HRVWCC furthers the government’s efforts to identify, locate, and prosecute human rights abusers in the United States, including those who are known or suspected to have participated in persecution, war crimes, genocide, torture, extrajudicial killings, female genital mutilation, and the use or recruitment of child soldiers,” the press release said.
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