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Ilunga v. Holder

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

January 27, 2015

FAUSTIN MUKADI ILUNGA, Petitioner,
v.
ERIC H. HOLDER, JR., Attorney General, Respondent

Argued October 28, 2014.

Page 200

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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On Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals.

ARGUED:

Dana Joo Moss, COOLEY LLP, Washington, D.C., for Petitioner.

Catherine Bye, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Washington, D.C., for Respondent.

ON BRIEF:

Stuart F. Delery, Assistant Attorney General, Cindy S. Ferrier, Assistant Director, Office of Immigration Litigation, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Washington, D.C., for Respondent.

Before GREGORY, FLOYD, and THACKER, Circuit Judges. Judge Gregory wrote the opinion, in which Judge Floyd and Judge Thacker joined.

OPINION

Page 203

GREGORY, Circuit Judge:

Faustin Mukadi Ilunga, a citizen of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, appeals the denial of his application for asylum and protection under the Convention Against Torture (" CAT" ). We hold that the rejection of Ilunga's asylum application, largely on the basis of an adverse credibility finding, was not supported by substantial evidence. We thus remand for further proceedings.

I.

The following description of Ilunga's travails in the Congo and his journey to the United States is based on his asylum application, testimony before the Immigration Judge (" IJ" ), and corroborating documentation in the record. The IJ's adverse credibility determination necessarily called into question the trustworthiness of many of the facts alleged.

A.

Before fleeing to the United States, Ilunga lived in the Congo with his wife and five children. In 2003, he joined the Movement for the Liberation of the Congo (" MLC" ), a political party that actively opposed President Joseph Kabila in the country's 2006 elections. Ilunga was a paid employee and member of the party, participating in highly visible campaign activities and public appearances in the city of Lubumbashi.

After the MLC candidate lost the 2006 election to President Kabila, Ilunga's political activism endangered him. Local police and others loyal to President Kabila threatened Ilunga's life and vandalized his home. The police also killed two MLC supporters with whom Ilunga worked during the campaign. Increasingly fearful, Ilunga wrote a letter to his childhood friend living in neighboring Zambia, Bernard Kabeya, expressing his anxiety while accusing the president of assassinating his father.

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The letter was intercepted by government agents working for the Congolese intelligence agency, the Agence Nationale de Renseignements (" ANR" ). On December 23, 2006, an undercover ANR agent went to Ilunga's home, blindfolded him, and drove him to prison where he was interrogated. Ilunga admitted that he authored the letter, and the ANR agent stated that Ilunga " would be killed" as a result. A.R. 61.[1]

The government sent Ilunga to prison where he spent more than a month in a small cell shared with Jean Nkongolo Kalala. Ilunga suffered daily torture. Prison guards stabbed him and poured battery acid in the wounds. They shocked him with an electrical club, routinely whipped him, and raped him.

On February 2, 2007, Ilunga and Kalala escaped from prison with the help of a guard whom they paid off. The pair fled to Zambia in the bed of a truck hauling copper. While Ilunga remained in Zambia, the government tortured his family, raped his wife, and burned his home.

On June 22, 2008, Ilunga and Kalala boarded a plane for the United States. Ilunga's wife and children ...


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