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House of Representatives Homeland Security committee troubled by leaked Kite Runner report

Homeland Security Director, Samana Semo Ve’ave’a
DHS Director admits giving the report to two local media outlets
oey@samoanews.com

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Faipule found out this week that a Homeland Security report on the Kite Runner pleasure vessel’s trip to Samoa earlier this year could put ASG in a compromised position after the report was leaked to certain media outlets.

The vessel is owned by local businessman, Papali’i Laulii Alofa and caused a stir in Samoa when it was briefly detained in May for not having the proper clearance paperwork for entry and then was released, allegedly due to ‘after-the-fact paperwork’ showing up.

The Homeland Security House Committee, chaired by Vice Chair, Rep Larry Sanitoa, opened a hearing into the matter on Wednesday where they summoned Attorney General Fainu’ulelei Falefatu Alailima-Utu, Department of Homeland Security Director, Samana Semo Ve’ave’a, and special agent, Jolene Mageo Kava, in regards to the investigation of the pleasure boat Kite Runner’s recent activities in Western Samoa. 

It was initially assumed that the investigation into the Kite Runner’s activities had been concluded, but Rep. Sanitoa revealed that it is currently an ongoing investigation conducted by local Homeland Security (AS-DHS). Members of the Homeland Security committee and other faipule who sat in for the hearing, shared concerns that the AS-DHS investigative report names the names of employees allegedly involved despite the investigation not being concluded. 

They mainly voiced disappointment that the report had been published by media outlets before the Attorney General’s Office had time to determine if any laws were violated.

Su’a #1 District Luaitaua Gene Pan shared concerns that the rights of the accused employees had been violated. Luaitaua asked the AG if this presented an opportunity for these employees to sue the government? Alailima-Utu replied that “it would be up to each individual if they wanted to do so.” 

Another concern raised by the faipule was that naming the employees in media reports could have a negative impact on them and their families and also tarnish their reputations. 

Rep. Sanitoa then asked Samana if DHS had any policy in regards to leaks of confidential documents to the media, and Samana stated that “they do have a non disclosure statement in place” and admitted to releasing the investigative report on the Kite Runner to two media outlets, namely Talanei- KHJ and KVZK-TV. 

 “Any investigative report is confidential and the only time it becomes public information is when charges are filed in court,” the Attorney General said, adding that the “AG’s Office has to examine and scrutinize all evidence, before it can be determined that any laws were violated.”

Since the release of the report by media outlets, Customs Agent Sheehan Samuela Seigafo, who is being accused of forging the ASG chief of customs signature on the after-the-fact Certificate of Clearance, has disputed the allegations in a letter to DHS Director Samana. 

Upon learning that the investigation is ongoing, the committee passed a motion to reschedule the hearing for a later date, after the investigation is complete.