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February 7, 2017Rochester, NY, United StatesHuman Rights Violators

Liberian national arrested for perjury, obstruction of justice

ROCHESTER, N.Y. - A Liberian national was arrested Jan. 10, on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice following an extensive investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and ICE’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center (HRVWCC).

Isaac Kannah, 51, of Philadelphia, is charged in an October 2012, indictment with perjury and obstruction of justice. The charges carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

"This man attempted to cheat the system in defense of a convicted human rights violator and ultimately cheated himself," said Kevin Kelly, acting special agent in charge of HSI Buffalo. "These charges clearly demonstrate that the United States will not tolerate flagrant fraud which could compromise the judicial system."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Brett A. Harvey and Trial Attorney Brenda Sue Thornton, who are handling the case, stated that the perjury and obstruction of justice charges involved alleged false testimony given by the defendant during a removal hearing of former Liberian warlord, George Boley, in May 2011.

According to the indictment, the removal proceedings centered on whether Boley had committed human rights violations during the Liberian Civil War in the 1990’s as the leader of the Liberian Peace Council (LPC), a warring and fighting faction. Boley was charged with knowingly using and recruiting child soldiers to fight in the LPC and participating in the commission of extrajudicial killings. In February 2012, Boley became the first individual to be removed from the United States for the use or recruitment of child soldiers.

During removal proceedings, Kannah appeared as a witness for Boley, providing testimony under oath to support Boley’s claims that neither he nor the LPC were involved in human rights abuses. The indictment alleges that Kannah gave false testimony on 11 different issues at the hearing, including whether the LPC used children in its armed forces, whether LPC fighters were equipped with guns, whether Boley was in the field with child soldiers, whether the LPC was a warring or fighting faction, and whether in 1994, Kannah himself coordinated the LPC’s attack on Gbarnga, Bong County, Liberia.

Kannah was arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jonathan W. Feldman and released on $25,000 bond.

The indictment and arrest are the result of an investigation by HSI Buffalo under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Kevin Kelly.

The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

The investigation in this case was supported by ICE’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center (HRVWCC). Established in 2009 to further ICE’s efforts to identify, track and prosecute human rights abusers, the HRVWCC leverages the expertise of a select group of agents, lawyers, intelligence and research specialists, historians and analysts who direct the agency’s broader enforcement efforts against these offenders. Since 2003, ICE has arrested more than 380 individuals for human rights-related violations of the law under various criminal and/or immigration statutes. During that same period, ICE obtained deportation orders against and physically removed 785 known or suspected human rights violators from the United States. Additionally, ICE has facilitated the departure of an additional 108 such individuals from the United States. Currently, the HRVWCC is pursuing more than 1,750 leads and removals cases involving suspected human rights violators from 95 different countries. Since 2003, the HRVWCC has issued more than 70,400 lookouts for individuals from more than 110 countries and stopped 213 human rights violators and war crimes suspects from entering the U.S.

Members of the public who have information about foreign nationals suspected of engaging in human rights abuses or war crimes are urged to call the ICE tip line at 1-866-DHS-2423 (1-866-347-2423). Callers may remain anonymous. To learn more about the assistance available to victims in these cases, the public should contact ICE’s confidential victim-witness toll-free number at 1-866-872-4973.