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Leaked Cable Reveals Kenya Visa Case

A secret cable published last week by WikiLeaks shows for the first time how decisions to exclude foreign kleptocrats from the United States are made under Presidential Proclamation 7750.

The unredacted cable is from the U.S. Embassy in Kenya to the Secretary of State. It’s dated September 16, 2009. Ambassador Michael Ranneberger classified the cable ‘secret’ and ‘sensitive.’

Proclamation 7750 gives the State Department the power to ban from the U.S. foreign leaders and their family and friends involved with corruption or benefiting from it. Deliberations under Proclamation 7750 aren’t revealed and U.S. law requires that visa determinations be kept secret. The visa bans apply for life.

The leaked cable began:

Embassy is seeking a security advisory opinion under Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, Proclamation 7750, suspending the entry into the United States of Aaron Gitonga Ringera and members of his family. Ringera was born in Meru, Kenya on June 20, 1950. Post strongly believes Mr. Ringera has engaged in and benefited from public corruption in his capacity as Director/Chief Executive of the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) for the last five years by interference with judicial and other public processes, and that this corruption has had a serious adverse impact on U.S. national interest in the stability of democratic institutions in Kenya, U.S. foreign assistance goals and the international economic activities of U.S. businesses.

In November 2009, we talked about Ambassador Ranneberger. He had made ‘a very strange announcement’ on his Twitter page, we said, confirming that the U.S. government had denied a visa to Kenya’s attorney general Amos Wako. It was the first time an American official had revealed a visa determination under Proclamation 7750.

Justice Ringera, the subject of the leaked cable, became head of Kenya’s anti-corruption agency in 1999. He resigned in 2009 when the country’s parliament said his re-appointment by the president was illegal. He had been a judge on Kenya’s high court and court of appeal.

The leaked cable said:

Justice Aaron Ringera, is at the heart of Kenya’s debilitating corruption problem. While it was anticipated that he would be part of the solution when he took office, he has, instead, become an important element in a system of protection for political elites. Post strongly believes that Mr. Ringera has engaged in and benefited from public corruption in his capacity as KACC Director for the past five years by interference in public and judicial processes. The record demonstrates that:

— the KACC Director is part of the group protecting itself from prosecution for the Anglo-Leasing scandal;

— he participated in at least one meeting in which the attempted assassination of John Githongo was planned this year;

— he was aware of threats to Kenyan anti-corruption official John Githongo and shared them with Githongo as an apparent intermediary;

— Ringera has not successfully investigated for prosecution a single case involving a senior [Government of Kenya] official in five years in a country that is consistently rated as among the most corrupt in the world;

— Ringera has not acted on recommendations from Parliament or followed through on his own recommendations for prosecution to the President of Kenya;

— Ringera has stopped pursuing Anglo-Leasing cases, one of Kenya’s largest scandals for which no senior level investigations/prosecutions have been concluded;

— The backdoor manner in which Ringera was reappointed makes clear the premium value placed on him heading the KACC among the political elite.

Ringera was not ‘informed of the fact that he may be ineligible for a U.S. visa under section 212(f) of the INA and Proclamation 7750,’ the cable said. 

It said his last U.S. visa expired on July 15, 2007. “Mr. Ringera has travelled frequently to the United States,” the cable continued. “He is expected shortly to apply for a U.S. visa.”

The cable concluded: ‘Because of the serious effect of Mr. Aaron Ringera’s corruption, Post recommends that Mr. Ringera be excluded for travel to the U.S. under section 212(f) of the INA and that no exception be granted.’

The cable ‘SUBJECT: VISAS DONKEY: CORRUPTION 212(F) VISA DENIAL REF: A. 08 STATE 81854’ can be viewed here.

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