AP (NEW)

A South Sudan activist in the US is charged with trying to illegally export arms for coup back home

Mar 5, 2024, 2:34 PM

PHOENIX (AP) — A leading South Sudanese academic and activist living in exile in the United States has been charged in Arizona along with a Utah man born in the African nation on charges of conspiring to buy and illegally export millions of dollars’ worth of weapons to overthrow the government back home.

Peter Biar Ajak, fled to the U.S. with the help of the American government four years ago after he said South Sudan’s president ordered him abducted or killed. Emergency visas were issued at the time to Ajak, now 40, and his family after they spent weeks in hiding in Kenya. He was most recently living in Maryland.

A federal criminal complaint unsealed Monday in Arizona charges Ajak and Abraham Chol Keech, 44, of Utah, with conspiring to purchase and illegally export through a third country to South Sudan a cache of weapons in violation of the Arms Export Control Act and the Export Control Reform Act. The weapons that were considered included automatic rifles like AK-47s, grenade launchers, Stinger missile systems, hand grenades, sniper rifles, ammunition, and other export-controlled arms.

Although the criminal complaint was made public by Justice officials, the case was still not available in the federal government’s online system by Tuesday afternoon so it was unknown if the men had attorneys who could speak to the charges against them.

“As alleged, the defendants sought to unlawfully smuggle heavy weapons and ammunition from the United States into South Sudan – a country that is subject to a U.N. arms embargo due to the violence between armed groups, which has killed and displaced thousands,” Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division said in a statement.

“Sanctions and export controls help ensure that American weapons are not used internationally to destabilize other sovereign nations,” said Gary Restaino, U.S. attorney for Arizona.

A man who answered the telephone Tuesday at the Embassy of South Sudan in Washington said the mission does not have a press officer and the ambassador was traveling and unavailable for comment.

From 2022-23, Ajak was a postdoctoral fellow in the Belfer Center’s International Security Program at the Harvard Kennedy School, focusing on state formation in South Sudan, according to the program’s website. He has also been a fellow at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies of the National Defense University and a Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy.

Sudan gained independence from Sudan July 9, 2011, after a successful referendum. But widespread inter-ethnic violence and extreme human rights abuses by all sides continue to plague the country.

AP (New)

Associated Press

Trial of a southern Arizona rancher charged in fatal shooting of unarmed migrant goes to the jury

NOGALES, Ariz. (AP) — The trial of a southern Arizona rancher charged with fatally shooting an unarmed migrant on his property near the U.S.-Mexico border went to the jury Thursday. Jurors did not immediately reach a verdict and will resume deliberations Friday morning. In closing arguments earlier Thursday, lawyers debated the actions of 75-year-old George […]

2 days ago

Associated Press

Democrats clear path to bring proposed repeal of Arizona’s near-total abortion ban to a vote

PHOENIX (AP) — Democrats in the Arizona Senate cleared a path to bring a proposed repeal of the state’s near-total ban on abortions to a vote after the state’s highest court concluded the law can be enforced and the state House blocked efforts to undo the long-dormant statute. Although no vote was taken on the […]

2 days ago

Associated Press

Shouts of ‘Shame! Shame!’ erupt in Arizona House as fight over abortion ban engulfs lawmakers

PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona Legislature devolved into shouts of “Shame! Shame!” on Wednesday as Republican lawmakers quickly shut down discussion on a proposed repeal of the state’s newly revived 1864 law that criminalizes abortion throughout pregnancy unless a woman’s life is at risk. The state Supreme Court cleared the way on Tuesday for enforcement […]

9 days ago

Associated Press

What to know about abortion in Arizona under the near-total 1864 ban

PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona Supreme Court gave the go-ahead Tuesday to prepare to enforce a long-dormant law that bans nearly all abortions, drastically altering the legal landscape for terminating pregnancies in a state likely to have a key role in the presidential election. The law predating Arizona’s statehood provides no exceptions for rape or […]

10 days ago

Associated Press

Democrats pounce on Arizona abortion ruling and say it could help them in November’s election

PHOENIX (AP) — Democrats pounced Tuesday on an Arizona Supreme Court ruling that permits enforcement of an 1864 law effectively banning abortion in the state, blaming former President Donald Trump and Republicans and pressing for political advantage on an issue that could dominate a critical 2024 battleground. The ruling permits doctors or others to be […]

10 days ago

Associated Press

Arizona can enforce an 1864 law criminalizing nearly all abortions, court says

PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the state can enforce its long-dormant law criminalizing all abortions except when a mother’s life is at stake. The case examined whether the state is still subject to a law that predates Arizona’s statehood. The 1864 law provides no exceptions for rape or incest, but […]

10 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

A South Sudan activist in the US is charged with trying to illegally export arms for coup back home