The following letter was delivered to Congressman Chris Smith of NJ requesting that he highlight this case at a Congressional hearing scheduled for Tuesday, March 27, 2012 in support of HR 1940: http://chrissmith.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=286919
Congressman Chris Smith
Washington, DC Office
2373 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
March 24, 2012
Dear Congressman Smith:
I am writing to request your personal advocacy of Department of State case #: OCS 2011 319 2852 in support of H.R. 1940.
As of this writing, there have been four abductions from the northeastern region of the U.S. to Tunisia, the last three having occurred within the past four months, all from the DC/MD/VA region. There is reason to believe an additional abduction is pending, though no further information regarding this abduction is known (the State Department and FBI have been made aware of this).
On November 11, 2011, Faical Chebbi – a dual citizen of Tunisia and the United States of America – departed the U.S. with Eslam (5) and Zainab (3), declaring never to return them home. At present, I, Édeanna M. Chebbi, am in Tunisia fighting for the right to bring my children back to their home in the U.S.
I was granted sole physical and legal custody of my children by the consent of my ex-husband over a year ago. I fought for two years in the U.S. to ensure that my children and I would not be re-victimized by the domestic violence that necessitated our divorce. We are now suffering this re-victimization in Tunisia at the hands of a man who is unquestionably a criminal.
In the summer of 2011 when Faical applied for and obtained Tunisian birth certificates and passports for Eslam and Zainab, he did so as a U.S. citizen bound by U.S. law, for two U.S. citizens whom he had relinquished any right of legal authority over. Eslam and Zainab have always been U.S. citizens and their receiving Tunisian citizenship was illegal.
In addition to Faical’s personal confession for the criminal act of international child abduction (on file with the U.S. consulate, Tunis, Tunisia), the following facts would easily support senior U.S. officials in intervening with Tunisian authorities on our behalf – particularly in obtaining cooperation through Interpol for the children’s return:
On July 16, 2010, the Circuit Court of Prince George’s County, Maryland issued a court order preventing either parent from removing Eslam and Zainab from the United States. On November 17, 2011, the same court issued an order demanding the children be returned to Édeanna Chebbi utilizing all means of reasonable and necessary force. On November 18, 2011, Virginia State Police issued 2 warrants for Faical Chebbi for the criminal act of child abduction. On December 19, 2011, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia issued a federal warrant for the arrest of Faical Chebbi for the act of international kidnapping. Finally, on January 4, 2012, The United States Attorney’s office issued a Prosecutor’s Agreement to Extradite for Faical Chebbi in upholding the federal warrant.
Each of these documents is incorporated in the aforementioned U.S. Department of State case file. Additionally, the Tunisian Interpol, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ministry of the Interior have received copies of Interpol yellow alerts for missing children, Eslam and Zainab Chebbi. The whereabouts of both children is well known, and Interpol has been notified of the address of their detention in Tunisia.
Congressman Smith, I request that you highlight these Tunisian abductions as an issue of grave concern at the Congressional hearing on March 27, 2012. I particularly request any and all emphasis be placed on the need for diplomatic and Congressional action in advocating for the return of Eslam and Zainab Chebbi. Tunisia stands to receive a significant financial contribution from the U.S. in its efforts to democratize following the Jasmine Revolution. It is inconceivable as a U.S. citizen that our country would support these efforts while ignoring their harboring of innocent American children.
Édeanna M. Chebbi