WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 2, 2011) -- A McDermott Will & Emery team has secured asylum for a former Ethiopian political prisoner and torture victim, Mr. K.
During trial, the U.S. government argued that Mr. K was barred from receiving asylum because he firmly resettled in Kenya before arriving in the United States. Despite the government’s opposition, the Immigration Judge ruled from the bench in Mr. K’s favor, finding that Mr. K was credible, had proved his asylum claim, and did not firmly resettle in Kenya. Following the court’s ruling, the government waived appeal.
Shortly after a disputed national election, Mr. K and hundred of others were arrested by Ethiopian federal police during a political protest in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. Mr. K was beaten severely during his arrest and was imprisoned without charges for over three months on account of his political opposition and his Gurage ethnicity. Throughout his imprisonment, Mr. K was tortured repeatedly. One of his wounds eventually became so infected that Mr. K was transported to a medical facility for treatment, at which time he escaped from custody. He then hid briefly in Addis Ababa and shortly thereafter fled to Kenya, where he lived in hiding for more than two years. Mr. K eventually made his way to the United States, where he surrendered to authorities and requested asylum.
The McDermott team, led by Washington, D.C. partner Ryan Smethurst with assistance from associates Amy Granger and Beth Hatef, represented Mr. K for over two years. During that time, the McDermott team recruited pro bono experts to testify regarding Mr. K’s medical and psychological condition and country conditions in Ethiopia. The McDermott team also obtained affidavits and letters from family and supporters in Ethiopia and amended Mr. K’s asylum application to strengthen his case. McDermott also arranged for Mr. K to obtain free English language training, a work permit, a social security card, and a Virginia driver’s license.
“Mr. K was persecuted for supporting democracy in Ethiopia. He is an earnest, hard-working and humble man who deserves the opportunity to thrive here in the U.S. We are proud to have helped Mr. K win asylum and begin to assimilate in our community,” said Ryan Smethurst.