9. October 22, 1982 - Los Angeles, California, United States: The FBI arrests and charges four local Armenian Americans for conspiring to bomb the Philadelphia Honorary Turkish Consul General, Kanat Arbay. They are JCAG members recruited from the Armenian Youth Federation, and include: Karnig Sarkissian, 29, of Anaheim; Viken Vasken Yacoubian, 19 of Glendale; Viken Hovsepian, 22 of Santa Monica; and, Dikran Sarkis Berberian, 29, of Glendale. A fifth co-conspirator, Steven John Dadaian, 20 of Canoga Park, California, is arrested at Logan International Airport in Boston, as he exits the aircraft with a briefcase containing five sticks of dynamite and the components of a detonation timer transported from Los Angeles. Two of the five perpetrators, Hovsepian and Yacoubian, eventually are granted U.S. citizenship by a federal judge. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit overturned this ruling. Pending the completion of their last ditch appeals, Hovsepian and Yacoubian will be deported to Lebanon.
A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that a judge did not err in granting U.S. citizenship to two Armenian men convicted more than 20 years ago of planning to bomb the Turkish Consulate in Philadelphia. The decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ends a long struggle by Viken Hovsepian and Viken Yacoubian, who plotted to bomb the consulate in retaliation for the killings of Armenians by Turks in 1915. The Turkish government denies a massacre occurred.
The men, who have been out of prison since the early 1990s, now have doctorates, have renounced violence and volunteer many hours a week in the Los Angeles Armenian- American community, said Mathew Millen, an attorney who helped handle the immigration portion of their case.
Federal law currently forbids convicted terrorists from becoming citizens. But anyone convicted of an aggravated felony before November 1990 can be granted citizenship if they have been "of good moral character" for five years prior to their application, Millen said.
"They both renounced violence as a means of achieving any kind of political end," Millen said by phone. "They both have Ph.D.s, and they had a lot of witnesses who talked about their activity in the community" at their immigration hearing.
The federal government fought the citizenship application, contending that the men lied on certain portions of their applications. The 9th Circuit affirmed Tuesday a lower-court opinion that the alleged "lies" were actually misunderstandings or oversights.
"We accept the court's ruling, as we do with any ruling," said Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles.
The men were in their early 20s when they and two others were arrested in 1982 after authorities tape-recorded them planning the bombing. Authorities at the time said they were linked to the Justice Commandos of the Armenian Genocide.
Hovsepian was sentenced to six years in prison in 1984, while Yacoubian was sentenced to three years in prison and 1,000 hours of community service.
Yacoubian is now principal of the Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian School in Los Angeles' Little Armenia and has obtained a doctorate in counseling psychology from the University of Southern California, according to court documents.
He declined to comment when reached by phone at the school. His attorney, Michael Lightfoot, did not immediately return calls Tuesday.
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