On December 22, 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it charged a lawful permanent resident (LPR) from Uzbekistan with immigration offenses [PDF version].
The facts are as follows:
- Sidikjon Mamadjonov, a 31-year old citizen of Uzbekistan residing in the United States, was arrested on December 22, 2017, on a criminal complaint charging him with immigration offenses.
- Mamadjonov was admitted to the United States in February 2009. He became an LPR in September 2010.
- On September 8, 2014, Mamadjonov filed a Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.
- According to the criminal complaint, Mamadjonov told the FBI in an interview on November 20, 2017, that he had been informed on a trip to Turkey in 2013 that his brother had died in May or June 2013 while fighting in Syria with the “Nursa” group, which was affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). When he returned from Turkey, Mamadjonov told the FBI that he received a package containing what he believed to be his brother's iPhone. The iPhone “contained several videos and photographs depicting [his brother] in Syria.” Mamadjonov also “recalled a video in which [his brother] stated, 'Join us brother, we are here.'” The phone also contained photographs of his Mamadjonov's brother's dead body and his bloodied face.
- According to the criminal complaint, Mamadjonov told the FBI in three interviews in 2014 — notably after he later stated he had received the package containing his brother's iPhone and gave a different account of his trip to Turkey — that his brother was still alive.
- The complaint also alleged that Mamadjonov had told the FBI in an interview in August 2016 that he did not know the whereabouts of his brother and that he had not overheard any discussions of Uzbeks in the United States going to Syria to fight. Furthermore, he told the FBI that he was not aware of any Uzbeks traveling to Syria.
- The complaint alleged that in September 2014 Mamadjonov provided false answers on his Form N-400, which he submitted under oath. He answered “No” to the question of whether he had “ever been a member of, or in any way associated (either directly or indirectly) with: C. A terrorist organization?” In response to Part 11, Question 31 of the version of the Form N-400 he filled out, he answered “No” in response to “Have you ever given any Government official information that was materially face, fraudulent or misleading?” He signed the form below, certifying under penalty of perjury that the Form N-400 and evidence submitted with it was true and correct.
- The complaint also alleged that Mamadjonov provided false statements to a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer in an interview regarding his Form N-400. In this interview, he again concealed information about his association with a member of a known terrorist organization, this being his brother. The complaint notes that “[a]t the conclusion of the interview, he swore an oath under penalty of perjury that his responses were true.”
The complaint charged Mamadjonov with Unlawful Procurement of Naturalization (18 U.S.C. 1425(b)), False Statements on a Naturalization Application (18 U.S.C. 1015), and False Oath or Declaration Under Penalty of Perjury (18 U.S.C. 1546). You may read the complaint here [PDF version]. The DOJ, however, made clear that “a complaint is only a charge and not evidence of guilt.” Mamadjonov will have the opportunity to defend himself in court.
While the complaint is not a conviction, the facts of the case are interesting. Regardless of the ultimate disposition of the specific case, it highlights several important points. First, an individual who is sought for questioning by the FBI or other law enforcement should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney for guidance. Furthermore, the individual should never provide knowingly false information to law enforcement. Regarding Mamadjonov's Form N-400, the case also serves as a reminder that providing false information on an immigration application may render an individual subject to criminal penalties in addition to civil immigration penalties.
Mamadjonov was charged with unlawful procurement of naturalization under 18 U.S.C. 1425(b). We noted that Justice Neil Gorsuch posed questions about the language of 18 U.S.C. 1425(b) in oral arguments for Maslenjak v. United States, a case examining the scope of 18 U.S.C. 1425(a) [see article]. For those interested, please see our full article on the Supreme Court decision in Maslenjak on the scope of 18 U.S.C. 1425(a) [see article].