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‘No Charged Underlying Crime’: Former FBI Linguist Indicted for Obstruction


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A former FBI linguist who was arrested over the weekend on obstruction and false statement charges was indicted on Monday in an Eastern District of Virginia courtroom.

According to federal prosecutors, 66-year-old Virginia man Abdirizak Jaji Raghe Wehelie (aka Haji Raghe) worked as a federal contractor for the FBI as a linguist. Wehelie allegedly “intentionally misidentified his own voice that was captured when Person A,” a suspect in a terrorism investigation, “left a voicemail message on Wehelie’s mobile telephone. ”

“When questioned by FBI investigators about this particular incident, Wehelie made several misleading and/or false statements,” prosecutors alleged.

They noted that the offenses, upon conviction, add up to a maximum of 25 years behind bars. They emphasized, however, that maximum punishment will generally not be a realistic possibility.

After the publication of Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s Russia report and the details of the obstruction portion of the probe, Rudy Giuliani and other defenders of President Donald Trump have argued that because there was no underlying crime there can be no obstruction. The DOJ criminal resource manual says otherwise, as some have been quick to note. Others are pointing out that the DOJ just provided another example of someone being charged with obstruction despite there being “no charged underlying crime.”

The latest obstruction case comes not long after a Massachusetts judge and court officer were hit with federal charges for their roles in allegedly helping a criminal defendant evade Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) when they were eligible for deportation.

Special counsel Mueller did not reach a conclusion on the obstruction question. While he did not allege obstruction he didn’t exonerate the president of it either. Mueller also pointed out that DOJ policy is against indicting a sitting president.

Hundreds of former federal prosecutors on Monday signed their names on a letter saying that it is their belief that the “conduct of President Trump described in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report would, in the case of any other person not covered by the Office of Legal Counsel policy against indicting a sitting President, result in multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice.”

[Image via BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images]

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.