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Department of Justice
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, May 6, 2019

Former FBI Linguist Arrested on False Statement and Obstruction Charges

A Virginia man who previously served as a linguist for the FBI was arrested Saturday night on charges of making multiple false statements to FBI officials and obstructing a federal investigation.  Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger for the Eastern District of Virginia and Assistant Director in Charge Nancy McNamara of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.

According to court documents, Abdirizak Jaji Raghe Wehelie, aka Haji Raghe, 66, of St. Burk, was a federal contractor for the FBI and worked as a linguist translating communications captured by court-authorized surveillance of a suspect (Person A) in a terrorism investigation. Wehelie allegedly intentionally misidentified his own voice that was captured when Person A 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.

Wehelie is scheduled to make his initial appearance in federal court in Alexandria today at 2:00 p.m.

Wehelie is charged with making false statements to government officials and obstruction of a federal investigation. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Assistant U.S. Attorney James P. Gillis is prosecuting the case, with assistance from the National Security Division.

An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.

Topic(s): 
Counterterrorism
National Security
Press Release Number: 
19-474
Updated May 6, 2019