February 1st, 2009
04:00 PM ET
9 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. Barbara Campbell

    And this pertains to what?

    February 1, 2009 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  2. silas

    so let me ask, what does this have to do with Barack or the American people CNN ?

    February 1, 2009 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |

    What does this story have to do with anything? Maybe it's time the goverment of Kenya keep u reporters out. Leave the young man alone and focus on some of the drugs coming in from mexico...that is affecting the us.

    February 1, 2009 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  4. Michiganian

    Maybe he is innocent. Interesting that there will be this big incident over his
    release, while Michael Phelps was never even arrested, and I bet Phelps won't even be questioned on his misbehavior. I feel sorry for George, who cannot even live his life without media now.

    February 1, 2009 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  5. Ex=Republican

    Didn't the first report came out that he was homeless? Now they got the facts straight, huh? Got to give it to the news media..will make up stories just to be the first to get the news out there, and god forbid it has anything to do with anything 'Obama'

    Cnn conveniently forgot to report that the amount of marijuana found on him was just one joint (from the Kenyan news reports-which is why i read other news media reports. American news media is not that trustworthy)'. Would not be surprised if the poor thing was set up. Tribal conflicts are entrenched in Kenya and my understanding is that Obama's father is from the luo tribe.

    February 1, 2009 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  6. Simmy

    Will next report tell us that he has said his prayers before going to bed? Stop this nonsense, please!

    February 1, 2009 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  7. Rob Stumpf

    Thank God he's not related to Sarah Palin. He would have been torn apart by now...

    February 1, 2009 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  8. American Voice

    Why is this news?? How does this affect America??

    February 1, 2009 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  9. Eileen from Maine

    the police report said that the young man had one marijuana cigarrette on him. Isn't this where thousands of civilians were killed in a bloody uprising just last year? And they arrest somebody for having one marijuana cigarrette?

    February 1, 2009 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  10. JCQueipo

    Very unfortunate situation he will be on the spotlight for the next 8 years.

    RE-ELECT OBAMA ON 2012 !!!

    February 1, 2009 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  11. Proud American

    Rob Stumpf @Thank God he's not related to Sarah Palin. He would have been torn apart by now…
    No Sarah's children are to busy having bastards out of wedlock, they don't really have the time to smoke pot.

    February 1, 2009 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  12. Proud American

    Wow I guess Americans haven't read the story about the American Hero, Phelps?

    February 1, 2009 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  13. Aaegie, Toronto, Canada

    At the time of economic crisis around the world you would think CNN would report on such pressing issues. I guess it's a slow news day.

    February 1, 2009 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  14. And....

    I don't know if he had weed or not. However, if the U.S. arrested everyone who smoked a little weed in their lifetime, especially during our youth 75% of us would be in jail, including Michael Phelps. This is not a story, sounds more like a set-up.

    February 1, 2009 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  15. Patty - Grandma in Maine

    Wow, it's a different story when it is a relative of Obama. MY, my how you Obama lovers tore Sarah Palin apart over a woman who isn't even related to her. Such hypocrites you are.

    February 1, 2009 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  16. Remy

    Ronald Reagan was a DRUG DEALER PRESIDENT of USA. CNN better publish how Reagan administratio dealt with DRUGs and drug dealers. Obama's half brother is nothing when we think about the Drug deals of Reagan and the Islamic terroism Reagan created in Afghanistan!

    Trust Obama who will cleanup all the mess by Reagan, Bush and Bush!

    February 1, 2009 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  17. Stella

    CNN should start reporting on real news and not become another
    gossip tabloids, come on guys give us real news that is important
    to the American people and affects the American people. Go Obama,
    Go Obama all the way 2012.

    February 1, 2009 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  18. Soccer Nana


    speaking from experience or did rush give you that one? moron.

    February 1, 2009 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  19. James

    Obama never even met that guy, he is not even a US citizen, why media gives so much attention to unrelated issues? whole world is in economic trouble, and people are losing job, house and CNN is worries about some dick and harry. com on now.

    February 1, 2009 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  20. Proud American

    Phelps admits 'bad judgment' after marijuana-pipe photo, "Wow a true American hero"

    February 1, 2009 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  21. Marc K

    I guess pot use runs in the family, even if they are thousands of miles away.

    February 1, 2009 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  22. Connie from Indiana

    This story will get us jobs, HOW?

    February 1, 2009 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  23. lee

    Marijiana is it more dangerous than alcohol ? Why should someone
    been jailed for possession of alcohol ? none sense

    February 1, 2009 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  24. What's all the fuss about

    And this is important why?

    February 1, 2009 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  25. pascal

    l hope my cnn will be resonnable and stop posting somes stuff that don't have any relation with America at this hrad time .please please we want read about jobs ,economics,health care....

    February 1, 2009 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
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