News / Africa

Charles Taylor’s Former Defense Minister Arrested in US

Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu of LiberiaJucontee Thomas Woewiyu of Liberia
x
Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu of Liberia
Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu of Liberia
James Butty
The immigration lawyer for the Defense Minister in Charles Taylor’s former rebel National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) during that country’s brutal civil war says his client will be exonerated of the charge of lying on his application for U.S. citizenship.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Federal Bureau of Investigation agents Monday arrested Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu at Newark Airport on his return from Liberia and charged him with lying by failing to disclose his alleged affiliation with a “violent political group in Liberia”.

But attorney Raymond Basso says Woewiyu later in 2009, at the request of U.S. immigration, submitted information clarifying his involvement with the NPFL.

The indictment said that as NPFL defense minister during Liberia’s civil war, Woewiyu presided over a brutal military campaign during which perceived adversaries were tortured, civilians were executed, girls and women were raped and forced into sex slavery.

But in his application for U.S. citizenship, according to the indictment, Woewiyu said he had never advocated for the overthrow of any government by force or violence and that he had never persecuted any person.

Basso says contrary to reports, Woewiyu is not being charged as a war criminal.
 
“They are not charging him as a war criminal; you see that’s the misconception that I’ve been reading. Basically, they’re saying that the U.S. is holding him out to be a war criminal, which in a sense is true. They are holding him to be that way, but they’re only charging him with lying on an application,” Basso said.
 
Basso said he’s confident Woewiyu will be acquitted.
 
“What do I think is going to happen? I think he’s going to be exonerated simply because, whether or not he made a misrepresentation or omitted something on his original application, when I got involved in the case and the government asked us for information, we responded in writing and laid out all his participation and role in the Taylor regime,” he said.
                   
Basso said U.S. immigration officials in 2010 turned down Woewiyu’s corrected application.
 
Woewiyu, who has been living in the United States, returned to Liberia recently and local reports said he was contemplating running for a senatorial seat for Grand Bassa County during this year’s Liberia midterm elections.
 
Local reports also said Woewiyu has been critical of the way in which President Ellen Johnson’s government has been handling the discovering of oil near Grand Bassa, Woewiyu’s home county.
 
Basso would not speculate whether political considerations were behind Mr. Woewiyu’s arrest, but he questioned the timing.
 
“I don’t know the motivation for charging him now. The government has had this information since 2009. They denied it (his application) in 2010. Actually, he filled out the application in 2006.  Why are they waiting eight years to charge him? I don’t know their motivation,” Basso said.
 
He said Woewiyu is expected to appear before a federal magistrate on Thursday to determine bond.
 
If found guilty, Woewiyu faces up to 110 years in prison and up to $4 million in fines for lying on his application, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

You May Like

New England Bears Brunt of US Blizzard

Boston, surrounding region grapple with as much as 3 feet of snow, coastal flooding; leaders in New York, spared most severe weather, criticized for being overly cautious More

China Lifts Lid on Sale of Fake Goods Online

A recent survey found nearly 60 percent of a random sample of items bought from Taobao were fake More

Upward Aims to Create Old-girls Network in Silicon Valley

Lisa Lambert, an executive with Intel Corp.'s venture-capital unit, responds to the gender-disparity debate by creating a new social organization More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: James Johnson from: Maryland, USA
May 17, 2014 3:26 PM
What is Tom charge for and why now? I want to believed Tom was one of those opposed, If he is charge, than the US will have to check a lots of documents, including the current president. And let all of them face the US justice system.


by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
May 15, 2014 5:21 AM
Mr. Tom Woewiyu was one of those that cause atrocity in Liberia, and He also help to destabilized the Country, and some other region. Mr. Woewiyu help to killed the Liberian people. He should face criminal charges, and he should be brought to justice for the atrocity he cause. He cannot denied that, cause BBC/VOA has his records. He was NPFL spokesman at that time. and later on he became Defense Minister for the Taylor administration. If you were a little Child in Liberia at that time, you will know Mr. Woewiyu, cause he loves the radio. If Woewiyu likes he can denied all he wants, we have the records to proved to him.
We are also calling on the Obama administration to help the Liberian people in this matter. Mr. Woewiyu needs to go to ICC to face charges for his crimes he committed during the Liberian civil war. He is a criminal. he is a terrorist, he is a tyrant like his Father Charles Taylor and He needs to be lock up like Mr. Taylor. So we are calling on the Obama administration to do more in this case. Enough is enough.

In Response

by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
May 18, 2014 12:49 AM
Leroy@ James Johnson, The fact of the matter, those people destroyed our beautiful country, including Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. I strongly believed Madam Sirleaf should have been in the hague facing criminal charges. As we can record in 1990 september, Madam Sirleaf told BBC focus on Africa, they should level the mansion if President Doe doesn't leave. All those people had an interior motive, All those people that cause the suffering of the Liberian people and brought shamed to our land should lock up behind bar. If they had problem with President Doe, what they should have done, go to the election with the IC and the US monitoring the election. But to killed all the Liberian people as they did, No. these people should held accountable for their actions. They have pushed Liberia back into the stone age. Liberia is one of the biggest village in Africa. buck of the people are living beneath poverty level in Liberia. where by, during the Doe administration, you couldn't tell the poor from the rich. What are the changes they brought to Liberia? I tell, they brought Liberia down and scrape her out of her glory. They disgraced our country. They never had love for that country. there is no way you will love Liberia and destroy it like the way they did. and those are people who were living in the modern world. please. God Bless Liberia, and the lone star will fly high again in Jesus name.

In Response

by: James Johnson from: Maryland USA
May 17, 2014 3:56 PM
Woewiyu is not charged for problem of the Liberian destabilization, if I understood the charge well, it is for false information on some application that he filled some years a go. What I advised now is that the Obama administration need to check all Liberian Gov. Officers records as they re-enter the US this include even the current president. I some how agreed with you, But let the charge be defined. We are looking for who carried Taylor to Liberia.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Spacei
X
Rosanne Skirble
January 27, 2015 5:05 PM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.
Video

Video Weekly Protests in Korea Keep Japanese WWII Atrocities Alive

Every week in Seoul protesters gather in front of the Japanese Embassy to demand an apology and reparations from Tokyo for the thousands of South Korean women who were forced into prostitution during World War II. Although this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, these protestors have helped keep the issue of comfort women alive and made it difficult for Japan to move beyond its past wartime atrocities. VOA's Brian Padden reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Exercise: New Prescription for Parkinsons Disease

Exercise could be the new prescription for Parkinson's Disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. More than six million people worldwide suffer from Parkinsons and they're traditionally treated with medication and surgery. Shelley Schlender has more.
Video

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Greece’s youngest-ever prime minister, 40-year-old Alexis Tsipras, was sworn in Monday after his victorious far-left Syriza party entered a coalition with far right rivals. Tsipras says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts. So begins a new chapter for the country at the epicenter of Europe’s economic crisis - a change that has sent tremors across the continent, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Oil Price Drop Troubles Texas Producers

As oil prices have fallen over the past several months, drilling operations have slowed in some parts of the United States - including Texas, the state that surpasses all others in energy production. The Lone Star State’s energy output has been boosted in recent years by development of resources trapped deep below ground in the Eagle Ford shale deposit, which stretches across south central Texas. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Karnes City, Texas, the drop in oil prices has created concerns,
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid