The Ninth Circuit has ruled that the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) erred in not considering imputed political opinion as a ground for asylum in an Armenian man's case.
Petitioner Hayk Khudaverdyan sought asylum in the United States. He claimed that he was unable to return to Armenia because he was persecuted by the military police for whistleblowing to the press.
Khudaverdyan, a manager at a hotel restaurant, was beaten by a local police chief's bodyguards after the chief was dissatisfied with the food and service. A week later, Khudaverdyan was approached by a reporter who wanted to interview him about the beating. At a second meeting with the reporter, Khudaverdyan refused to speak about the incident because he was afraid of retaliation. Immediately after this meeting, Khudaverdyan was kidnapped, interrogated, beaten, and accused of espionage by the military police. Khudaverdyan was also threatened with life imprisonment.