(Last Updated on August 30, 2013 by Editor)
TWO US men who allegedly tried to recruit Chicago lawmakers to open a dialogue with President Barack Obama on behalf of President Robert Mugabe have been indicted by a federal grand jury.
Prince Asiel Ben Israel, 72; and C. Gregory Turner, 71, were each charged with one count of conspiracy to act as an unregistered foreign agent, acting as unregistered foreign agents, and violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorneyâ€™s office.
The men, both from Chicago, illegally negotiated a $3.4 million deal to lobby Chicago politicians on behalf of Mugabe, prosecutors said previously.
Mugabe and his banking chief, Gideon Gono, allegedly agreed to pay the pair millions if they could overturn sanctions placed on them by the Bush Administration in 2003.
In an apparent reference to the Chicago politicians they lobbied, Turner allegedly reassured Gono in a July 2009 email, â€œthe battle has just begun – failure is not an option.â€�
Though none of the politicians the men approached are named in court papers or are accused of any crimes, the complaint makes it clear that U.S. Reps. Danny Davis and Bobby Rush were targeted.
Both co-sponsored a 2010 bill that sought a review of the sanctions, which were intended to rein in the fraud, violence, intimidation and vote-rigging that Mugabe and his Zanu PF party have increasingly relied upon.
At least one of the congressmen – itâ€™s unclear whether it was Davis or Rush – planned to travel to Zimbabwe to meet with Mugabe in 2009, but the trip was cancelled, the original complaint stated.
The sanctions were imposed following allegations of electoral fraud and human rights abuses which Mugabe rejects, claiming instead that Zimbabwe was being punished for its land reforms.
The Zanu PF leader blames the sanctions for the countryâ€™s economic problems and recently threatened reprisal action against Western companies operating in Zimbabwe if the sanctions are not removed.