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Kenya says Obama aunt would not have been in peril

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NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenya's government is unhappy with the impression created by a U.S. court ruling that granted asylum to President Barack Obama's aunt for saying she could be targeted by members of Kenya's government if deported, an official said Friday.

Government Spokesman Alfred Mutua described the case of Zeituni Onyango as an embarrassment and said the allegations made against Kenya were untrue and unrealistic.

"It has become a habit for Kenyans seeking asylum in other countries to lie. Her case is an embarrassment to this country and President Obama," Mutua said. "We are not looking for her. The government does not have any problem with Zeituni Onyango."

Earlier this week, U.S. Immigration Judge Leonard Shapiro in Boston said he gave Onyango asylum in the U.S. because she would be a target in Kenya not only for those who oppose the United States and Obama but for members of the Kenyan government.

Onyango is the half sister of Obama's late father and has been living in public housing in Boston.

Shapiro granted Onyango asylum in May after her case was heard during a closed trial. His written decision was released this week through the Freedom of Information Act.

Onyango helped care for the president's half brothers and sister while living with Barack Obama Sr. in Kenya. She moved to the United States in 2000 and applied for asylum in 2002, but her request was rejected and she was ordered deported in 2004.

The basis for Onyango's asylum request was never made public, but her lawyer Margaret Wong said in 2008 that Onyango first applied for asylum "due to violence in Kenya."

People who seek asylum must show that they face persecution in their homeland on the basis of religion, race, nationality, political opinion or membership in a social group.

Many of President Obama's relatives live peacefully in Kenya, including his grandmother, who is a celebrity here. The government connected Sarah Obama's home to the national power grid and made the road leading to her village more passable since Obama's election win.

The country has seen recent fits of violence, though. Kenya is still recovering from postelection violence in 2007-2008 that saw more than 1,000 people killed and 600,000 flee their homes.