February 1st, 2009
04:00 PM ET
6 years ago

Obama's half brother says he's been released from jail

 George Obama was arrested in Kenya on a charge for possession of marijuana, according to police.
George Obama was arrested in Kenya on a charge for possession of marijuana, according to police.

NAIROBI, Kenya (CNN) - George Obama, the half brother of President Obama, told CNN on Sunday that he was released from a Kenyan jail hours after his arrest for possession of marijuana.

Kenyan police did not confirm whether Obama is still in their custody.

Obama spoke to CNN from his cell phone, and a family member also said he was released.

He said he was arrested on Saturday and released later the same day.

Inspector Augustine Mutembei said Obama was arrested for possession of cannabis, known in Kenya as Bhang, and for resisting arrest. He was being held at Huruma police post in the capital, Nairobi.

He was scheduled to appear in court Monday, Mutembei said.

But Obama told CNN that all charges had been dropped against him.

Police would also not comment on that.

Speaking from behind bars, Obama denied the allegations on Saturday.

"They took me from my home," he said, "I don't know why they are charging me."

George Obama and the president barely know each other, though they have met. George Obama was one of the few people closely related to the president who did not attend the inauguration in Washington.

In his memoir, "Dreams from My Father," Barack Obama describes meeting George as a "painful affair." His trip to Kenya meant meeting family he had never known.

CNN tracked down George Obama in August 2008 and found him at a small house in Huruma, a Nairobi slum, where he lives with his mother's extended family. His birth certificate shows he is Barack Obama's half brother.

The two men share the same Kenyan father.

In the memoir, Barack Obama struggles to reconcile with his father after he left him and his mother when he was just a child.

Barack Obama Sr. died in a car accident when George was just 6 months old. And like his half brother, George hardly knew his father.

George was his father's last child and had not been aware of his famous half brother until he rose to prominence in the Democratic primaries last year.

Unlike his grandmother in Kogela, in western Kenya, George Obama had received little attention from the media until reports about him surfaced in August 2008.

The reports sprung from an Italian Vanity Fair article saying George Obama lived in a shack and was "earning less than a dollar a day."

The reports left George Obama angry. "I was brought up well. I live well even now," he said. "The magazines,
they have exaggerated everything.

"I think I kind of like it here. There are some challenges, but maybe it is just like where you come from, there are the same challenges," Obama said.

Obama, who is in his mid-20s, said at the time that he was learning to become a mechanic and was active in youth groups in Huruma. He said he tried to help the community as much as he can.


Filed under: Obama family
soundoff (58 Responses)
  1. shoegazer

    Is this what's known as the"big Bhang theory".

    February 1, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  2. mb

    Where was Obama's security during this time?

    February 1, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  3. Outspoken

    Nice family. They remind me of the Waltons.

    February 1, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  4. rich

    I was wondering why CNN was keeping this story alive. For God's sake the guy and Obama just know of each other by virtue of the fact they share some genetics. But, I finally figure it out. The link on the bottom of the article says it all: "Filed under: Obama family" even if it's a very distant relative half way around the world whom Obama has barely had any contact. The only thing that links these two men is their father's genes, yet we have to hear about him as if he and Obama has had an enduring close relationship from the beginning of the lives. CNN, get with the program. Stop trying to create news where none exists.

    February 1, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  5. rjn

    Don't worry George your brother used cocaine. Marijuana is just a beginners sport.

    February 1, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  6. Sanford

    So, yesterday's #6 story on cnn.com was that, some guy that President Obama only met once, who just happens to have the same father as President Obama (who he hadn't seen since he was 10), was arrested on drug charges, not anywhere in the United States, but in Africa.

    And then, to top it all off, the charges were dropped.

    Slow news day, huh?

    February 1, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  7. Mobius

    Move over, Billy Carter.

    February 1, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  8. The Truth

    Using Barack's criteria this guy should be named head of the DEA any day now.

    February 1, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  9. Jo from Minnesota

    This is kind of a silly story. All this guy shares with President Obama is a last name and some DNA. If this guy's last name was not Obama this story would not even be reported. I don't consider this news. "Some Guy With the Same Last Name as Our President Gets Arrested." Not news.

    February 1, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  10. Jerry McAllister

    Hopefully this guy's 15 minutes of fame is over.

    February 1, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  11. Mary

    Why is it so important abut this youn man who claims that much of the printed matter we read is just news paper garbage. I mean do we reall have to travel all the way to Africa to fimd 20year old who has been arrested form having drugs???? Are we so clean here in just these United States that we need to hunt for some young people with bad habits??? or is it really because He is Obama's half brother?? and if so, how many of any of you hve comntrol or ny saynover your of age siblings??????? Please raise your standards form once and rry and find something worth print, like how many kids are dieing from disease in many countries how many young people in the U.S are getting pregnant, are not married and stuff their new borns in trash bins. write a story about how any of us might be able to help those inneed somewhere, contribute, clothes, cangoods etc. mke your news print count form once..

    February 1, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  12. Karen

    Leave the families in Kenya alone. Nothing to do with us, they are citizens of Kenya and presumably are happy living and doing what they want. There are many of us who have families and relatives elsewhere, and are still unknown to us, so what does it matter? At least some of us have made our way and doing better than others. Let us focus on the problems facing ourselves and our own country instead of discussing what is happening elsewhere and which does not affect us at all.

    February 1, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  13. Currahee

    Was he smoking with Michael Phelps?

    February 1, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  14. Matt, Canoga Park

    Don't worry all you need to do now is sneak inside America and your Brother will get you Federal Housing and money just like your Aunt.

    February 1, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  15. John

    Okay, NBC...we get it. The media worships Obama. Do you really need to have a 15 minute infomercial of love with him on Superbowl Sunday? I am stuck watching hot dog history on the history channel...which is just another useless pieces of meat.

    February 1, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  16. African

    but in all seriousness, why is this young man being scrutinized by CNN and the rest of the media? Obama is American and his brother is African. please leave this poor man alone and let him be. gosh!!!

    February 1, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  17. Steve (the real one)

    From a conservative view point, if the last name was not Obama, this would not be news, and to think you libs thought we didn't have hearts!

    February 1, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  18. Survivor

    Time to straighten up and fly right! Amen.

    February 1, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  19. TheTruthHurts

    Why is that the family of famous people are always a pain in the rear. I guess the same is true in my family. Guess I'm glad I'm not famous. This guy IS NOT news.

    February 1, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  20. Steve

    Right-wing phony outrage in 3...2...1...

    Of course, the notion that anyone should be arrested and jailed for a drug that's far less dangerous than the legal drug alcohol is absolutely ridiculous.

    February 1, 2009 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  21. elsie

    This is a non-story. If he was not related to the President would CNN have a story about a twenty something Kenyan being arrested for a joint of marijuana? You guys are pathetic.

    February 1, 2009 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  22. Ray Fisher

    Oh, those wonderful days of old when we had a nation recovering from war, a rotten President, terrible economics and an irrcorrigible President's brother... hark is it 1977 again??? Instead of Billy Beer will we now have the Obama Bong??? Not even noteworthy what a President's brother does so why mention???

    February 1, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  23. hmmmm

    --who cares?????????????

    February 1, 2009 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  24. Billy in KS

    He's got it made.... no way are they going to prosecute the President of the USA's brother.

    February 1, 2009 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  25. No Hillary = No Obama

    Obama's Presidency sounds more and more like Clinton redux – remember Billy Beer Clinton? Now we have George Pothead Obama.

    February 1, 2009 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
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