PRO BONO ASYLUM REPRESENTATION MANUAL
Appendix G. Sample Witness Affidavit for Asylum Filing
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
U.S. CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES
CHICAGO ASYLUM OFFICE
State of Minnesota )
County of Hennepin )
I do swear and affirm that the following is true and correct:
1. My name is ______. I am a U.S. citizen, and currently reside at
______________________________. I work for _________________ as a
__________. I met Client in May of 2006. [Enumerate circumstances of meeting
and nature of relationship between Affiant and Client].
2. Our experience working with Client in May was very positive. Our stories
benefited greatly from his language skills, knowledge of the political landscape and
his reliability. When we were assigned a longer documentary, we decided to
produce the majority of the film in City, in large part because we needed to work
with a journalist as skilled as Client to make the project possible.
3. I returned to the Country in early July to begin production on the documentary. I
spent several days in the capitol, where I experienced the insecurity of the country
first hand. There was a lot of activity in the city surrounding the upcoming
elections and I could feel that tensions were rising. I was working with another
journalist/fixer, traveling through a slum area in a car labeled “Press” when we
were pulled over by a young police officer. Client was not with me during this
particular incident, but it is illustrative of the hostile environment that journalists
face in Country.
4. Though I don’t speak the language, it became clear to me that the officer was
threatening us. When the journalist I was with resisted, the officer got into our car
and told us to drive to the police station. As they argued a large mob of young men
surrounded the car. I felt that my life was in real danger, as I felt we had been
targeted because of my appearance and the fact that our car was labeled “Press.” I
paid the officer with the local currency that I was carrying and we escaped. In
addition, we had mobs set upon our vehicle on several occasions when our camera
was spotted. From that point on, we hired security when filming in Capitol City.
5. Country has a documented history of impunity when it comes to threats and
violence targeting the press. I have worked in over 25 countries worldwide and it
PRO BONO ASYLUM REPRESENTATION MANUAL
has been my general impression that international journalists are targets of threats
and violence much less frequently than their local counterparts. However, when I
was in Country at a meeting in the press office of the UN we received word that a
very prominent and experienced BBC journalist had asked the UN to protect and
then evacuate him because his life had been threatened. This made me even more
concerned about the safety of our crew and the impact we might have on the local
journalists we were working with.
6. Security in city was less of an issue, but there were specific situations we were
required to have armed guards in places, such as at the mines. We were advised to
bring government security services, known as ABC (and commonly referred to as
the “CIA” of Country) into the mining areas with us. We paid an ABC agent, who
was with us to show the local authorities that our visit with authorized. However,
the agent was also monitoring what we filmed and who we spoke to. Because the
ABC agent didn’t speak English, all of our interactions with locals were translated
by Client in most situations. Regardless of the ABC presence, our visits to the
mines had to be short, as people became very agitated. Eventually, we hired a local
cameraman who, with Client, did the majority of filming in the mines.
7. During the first week of the documentary shoot Client was asked by the radio
station WXYZ to conduct an on air (television and radio) interview with
Presidential candidate and current Vice President, Big Man. Big Man was one of
four Vice Presidents installed as part of a peace agreement that ended the civil war.
He is part of the ABC political party, and was a challenger to Bigger Man in the
election. I was with Client at the radio station and had the opportunity to talk to the
Vice President after the hour-long interview. I was told by other journalists at the
station that Vice President Big Man was full of praise for Client’s interviewing
skills and asked Client on air to join his campaign immediately.
8. Client is very well known person in the City. When we were with him he was
stopped on the street dozens of times a day. Even in the remotest areas that we
visited people would recognize his voice from the radio. In several cases when we
were with him he was criticized for working with a group of foreigners. People
seemed suspicious of our work.
9. Over the month of filming, Client and I became close friends. Because his English
language skills were so good, I was surprised to find out that he had never traveled
outside of Country. I decided that there couldn’t be a better use for some of
frequent flyer miles than to bring Client to visit us in Minnesota. I told him that if
he could get a visa from the US embassy to come here, I would get him a plane
ticket. I wrote the US Embassy a letter of support and dropped it off before I left.
Client arrived in Minnesota on Date. He was to stay for a three-week vacation and
had a return ticket to Country.
10. On Later Date I received a forwarded email from Client from his father-in-law, in
City indicating that the ABC had interrogated his wife regarding his work in
PRO BONO ASYLUM REPRESENTATION MANUAL
journalism in general, and specifically his work with the American television crew,
and his current whereabouts. In the email it indicated that Mr. FIL was very
concerned about the security of his daughter after the interrogation and he had
immediately relocated Client’s wife and their four small children to a town over
two hours drive from City.
11. Over the next week or two Client spent a lot of time communicating with his family
and an attorney in Country to try and understand the reason for the ABC looking
for him. After Mike’s family went to Small Village and then returned to her
father’s house, a neighbor told him that the ABC agents came back to their home
on several occasions. Eventually Client received an email that had a scan of the
arrest warrant issued for him. He was told that the attorney in City bribed a contact
at the court, who then took the document to FIL, who scanned it and emailed to
12. After discussing the situation with a colleague, I decided to contact the head of
public relations for the United Nations mission in Country. The UN Contact was an
important contact for our work in Country; we got to know him very well while in
Capitol City. I emailed the situation and talked with him on the phone on several
occasions. Via email, UN Contact advised that journalists are killed and jailed
frequently in Country and that the ABC were not to be messed with. He advised
that Client remain in the US for his safety.
13. The night before Client was to leave for home, we decided that it would be best for
him to stay in Minnesota because we knew that there was a real and serious threat
that he would be arrested and or killed if he returned to Country. Once Client made
the decision to stay in Minnesota we both spent a lot of time over the next few
weeks to make sure his family was safe. I was in contact with the UN, where our
contact offered to open an investigation into the charges and keep in contact with
Client’s family to make sure they are safe. I have continued to be in contact with
UN contact, and to date we haven’t received any specific information about the
charges against Client.
14. Having witnessed the situation in Country first hand and also witnessing Client’s
real fear of going back to Country, coupled with the advice not to return by the
United Nations Mission, I think Client should stay in the United States. I fear that if
he were to return to Country he would almost certainly be killed or imprisoned
I swear the foregoing statements are true and correct to the best of my knowledge.
Dated: _______________________ Signed: _____________________________
Printed Name: _______________________