18 Sep 2008

Samoa cabinet minister arrested in US on passport charges

10:04 am on 18 September 2008

An application for American Citizenship made more than 20 years ago has landed Samoa's Associate Minister of Trade and Commerce, Hans Joachim Keil, in serious trouble in the American state of Missouri.

Mr Keil is in custody charged with one count of falsely and willfully representing himself to be a U.S. citizen and one count of willfully and knowingly using and attempting to use a U.S. passport.

If convicted, he faces three years in jail on the first charge and 15 years on the second charge.

Both charges also carry a fine of $250,000.

Samoa's deputy prime minister, Misa Telefoni, says Mr Keil's arrest is a case of misunderstanding relating back to immigration matters in 1967 which had been

considered settled.

He says the government has strongly protested Mr Keil's detention