Khudaverdyan v. Holder

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Immigration
  • Date Filed: 02-27-2015
  • Case #: 10-73346
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Graber for the Court; Concurrence by Circuit Judge Owens; Dissent by Circuit Judge Kleinfeld
  • Full Text Opinion

A finding of political persecution that would qualify the seeker for asylum may be supported by a demonstration of imputed political opinion.

Hayk Khudaverdyan, an Armenian citizen, was working in a hotel in Armenia when the local police chief complained to Khudaverdyan about the food and service. Khudaverdyan defended the hotel, and, in response, the police chief’s guards beat him. Khudaverdyan was later approached by a reporter, who requested an interview about the incident. Khudaverdyan declined, citing a fear for his safety. Immediately after meeting with the reporter, Khudaverdyan was detained by military police. He was held overnight and interrogated, beaten, threatened, and accused of espionage. Khudaverdyan was released after his wife and cousin paid a bribe and promised the Khudaverdyans would leave the country. The Khudaverdyans seek asylum, withholding of removal, and further protections under the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) held that because Khudaverdyan did not intend to expose corruption by speaking to the reporter, he was unable to make the required showing of persecution based upon actual political opinion. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit held that a finding of political persecution that would qualify the seeker for asylum may be supported by a demonstration of imputed political opinion. The BIA failed to consider whether imputed opinion was sufficient and found against the Khudaverdyans because they lacked the actual political opinion that motivated the alleged torture. However, Khudaverdyan’s actions would not amount to whistleblowing even if he gave a statement to the reporter because he would be speaking about a single incident with a single police officer, not giving an opinion about the police department as a whole. DENIED in Part, GRANTED in Part, and REMANDED.

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