Family Says American Held Without Due Process, Evidence in South Sudanese Prison

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State Department So Far Unsuccessful at Freeing Elton McCabe from Detention; Family Fears His Safety and Health in Danger

U.S. State Department officials “remain extremely concerned about [McCabe's] health condition, the extra-judicial nature of his detention, and the unacceptable manner in which this case was handled."

An American businessman, Elton McCabe, is being held in a South Sudanese prison without due process, evidence or a warrant for arrest. He has been held in the African country’s prisons since October 14, and U.S. State Department officials “remain extremely concerned about [his] health condition, the extra-judicial nature of his detention, and the unacceptable manner in which this case was handled."

McCabe’s wife, Anne McCabe, believes he was targeted as a “wealthy” American to gain some type of ransom or financial reward. She says her family is not wealthy and the trip to South Sudan was made when her husband was unable to find work. She believes that the officers who arrested McCabe retaliated when they realized they would not get a significant payout. She's also worried the ordeal will affect his health, as he had a significant heart attack in December that requires daily medications that he has not received consistently since his arrest.

U.S. Senator David Vitter, in a story published and aired by WDSU News in New Orleans, called the accusations completely false. He added, "we have very good relations with some very high level folks in the South Sudan government, including the ambassador, including the president, but this is a corrupt country, so there are all kinds of forces and power centers, even outside the government."

Family members are calling on the U.S. Department of State to do whatever it takes to bring McCabe home. They are also asking news outlets to give visibility to case.

Timeline of Events*

  •     October 14 – McCabe was arrested by South Sudan’s National Security Service (NSS), a group that has no arrest or detention authority under South Sudanese law except in those extraordinary cases which impact national security.
  •     October 15 – U.S. Department of State became aware of the arrest when U.S. Ambassador Susan Page was notified by the Kenyan Ambassador to South Sudan of the arrest of a possible U.S. citizen.
  •     October 16 –Ambassador Page requested and was granted a meeting with Internal Security Director General Akol Koor Kuc.
  •     October 18 – Ambassador Page was given details of the accusations against McCabe and was told that detention by the NSS was necessary because of lack of police capacity. No charges were formally filed. Director General Akol agreed to allow a consular officer to visit Mr. McCabe the following morning.
  •     October 19 – The consular officer met with McCabe at NSS headquarters for the first time. He stated that the officers who arrested him were not in uniform and presented neither identification as NSS officers nor a warrant for his arrest.
  •     October 22 – The consular officer again requested medical access to Elton, explaining the urgency of his heart condition.
  •     October 24 – A Foreign Service Health Practitioner performed an examination at NSS headquarters. The Practitioner assessed that, while McCabe’s life was not in immediate danger, he was unlikely to survive prolonged detention, and could experience a quick decline in health if his access to medicine is interrupted or if he is not granted regular access to a qualified medical professional. The health practitioner noted that McCabe was extremely agitated, pale, suffering from diarrhea, was at high risk for malaria, and could suffer a cardiovascular emergency due to the stress of his incarceration.
  •     October 25 -- Ambassador Page and Consular Officer Mains delivered the formal protest to Sudan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs following other protests made to NSS and other government agencies. Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs Ambassador Charles Manyang D’Awol agreed with Ambassador Page’s assessment that the NSS had no jurisdiction in this case as it has no bearing on national security, and expressed disappointment with NSS’s handling of the situation. He promised to report the official protest to the NSS and to seek clarity on their intentions regarding McCabe.
  •     October 29 – McCabe was transferred to South Sudanese police custody. He was presented with an informal list of charges, but there is no evidence that these charges were officially filed with a magistrate.
  •     October 30 – McCabe was transferred to Juba Prison.
  •     November 1 – McCabe’s attorney came to the prison where U.S. officials were visiting and reported that authorities were willing to release McCabe later that day on a no-fee bail. However, shortly before 5 p.m., McCabe called the consular officer to say that he was being taken directly to NSS. Ambassador Page made several calls to various officials who assured her that it would be impossible for them to return to NSS custody. Embassy officers then rushed to the Juba Central Prison only to learn that he had been released from the jail and was immediately picked up by NSS officers.
  •     November 2 – The Ambassador and consular officer met with South Sudan’s Foreign Minister and Ambassador Manyang and it was agreed that the lack of due process is unacceptable. The Ambassador and consular officer then met with Minister of the Interior Alison Monani Magaya who called Minister Oyay to seek clarity on the NSS’s intentions. Minister Oyay reported that he has ordered the NSS to return McCabe to police custody. The consular officer confirmed that the transfer had not yet taken place at 5:30 p.m. U.S. Department of State officials summoned the South Sudan Ambassador in Washington to protest the lack of due process in McCabe’s case.
  •     November 5 – McCabe remains held illegally in South Sudan – without due process and evidence. While McCabe was freed of all charges, the NSS refuses to release him.

About Elton McCabe
Elton Mark McCabe, age 52, went to the African nation of South Sudan, in August to find work. He was arrested on Oct. 14. He has been denied due process. McCabe, who lives in Slidell, La., remains in a South Sudanese prison.

*According to a letter from the U.S. Department of State to Anne McCabe.

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Anne McCabe
Family Representative
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