Venezuelan Complicates the Asylum Picture

     WASHINGTON (CN) – A Venezuelan journalist who claims he ran the last independent TV station in Venezuela until its government shut it down, sued the U.S. government for records on his request for political asylum.
     Nelson J. Mezerhane Gosen, who now lives in Boca Raton, Fla., applied for asylum in August 2010. Venezuela’s then-President Hugo Chavez died this year, but his successor, Nicolas Maduro, has continued his policies.
     Gosen claims the Venezuelan government persecuted him because as a co-founder of the country’s last independent television station, he had refused to silence programming that criticized the government.
     He says the defendant U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has not issued a final decision in his asylum case.
     Gosen asked the USCIS in late March to release his complete “alien file.” In response to his FOIA request, the agency released 498 complete pages, withheld 55 pages and redacted 84 pages, according to the complaint.
     Gosen claims the USCIS refused to justify the withholding and improperly claimed exemptions.
     “Plaintiff, who has endured years of persecution at the hands of the Venezuelan government, is deprived of the opportunity to learn the full contents of the agency’s file and why the agency has not issued him written notice of adjudication of his claim,” the complaint states.
     Gosen wants to see the records.
     He is represented by Sandra Grossman of Rockville, Md.
     Ironically, Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who is accused of leaking classified government documents, is considering seeking political asylum in Venezuela, for fear he would not get a fair trial in the United States.
     Decisions on asylum cases often are put into limbo for years, particularly if anything about them could pose a problem for U.S. foreign or domestic policies.

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