Colombian Pro Bono Client Wins Asylum

March 18, 2008

Cleary Gottlieb secured asylum for Mr. X, a kidnapping victim from Colombia, before the Arlington, Virginia asylum office on March 18. Mr. X was kidnapped by the FARC while in Columbia, and he had been released only after paying a ransom. The FARC has made ongoing death threats against Mr. X and the members of his family and murdered some of his relatives.

Mr. X arrived in the United States in 2001. His pro se application for asylum was stalled for years while the asylum office determined whether Mr. X’s payment of the ransom to the FARC constituted financial support of a terrorist organization.

In 2006, Mr. X retained Cleary Gottlieb. In 2007, in part due to Cleary Gottlieb’s advocacy, the Department of Homeland Security issued an order excluding payments made under duress from the terrorism bar in certain situations.