Former FBI translator pleads guilty to lying about contact with terror suspect

Nov. 9 (UPI) — A former FBI translator accused of covering up personal contacts with a terrorism suspect has pleaded guilty to making false statements.

Abdirizak Wehelie, of Burke, Va., entered his plea Friday in federal court in Virginia. Prosecutors dropped seven other counts against him, including obstructing an investigation.

Prosecutors said the case stems from an incident in which Wehelie was translating messages captured by court-ordered surveillance of a suspect’s cellphone in 2016. One call was a message left on Wehelie’s personal voicemail system which Wehelie identified as from a “UM,” or “unidentified male,” and Wehelie failed to note that he was the intended recipient of the message.

When investigators questioned him, he denied engaging in telephone conversations with the suspect, adding that he knew the suspect, but not very well. He later admitted that the two had known each other for years, and were in telephone contact with each other since as early as 2010.

Prosecutors said that the charges center on allegations that the suspect, identified in court documents as Person A, aided an American resident’s attempt to travel to Somalia to join the al-Shabab terror group.