Amos Hochstein lobbied for African dictator accused of cannibalism

Joe Biden and Amos Hochstein in 2015 / Twitter • April 8, 2021 4:50 pm

President Joe Biden is considering tapping a lobbyist who represented a brutal African dictator to serve in a crucial diplomatic position.

On Wednesday, Politico reported that the Biden administration is in talks with Amos Hochstein to lead its efforts to cut off the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a project commissioned by Russian president Vladimir Putin. The project, which is nearing completion, would connect vital oil and gas resources via a pipeline from Russia to Germany.

Before joining the Obama administration in 2011, Hochstein worked for five years at Cassidy and Associates, a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm. Hochstein’s portfolio included services for Teodoro Obiang Nguema, the president of Equatorial Guinea and Africa’s longest serving dictator. Obiang, a former prison administrator, wrestled power from his uncle in 1979 and ordered the execution of his brother in the process. Under Obiang’s leadership, Equatorial Guinea touts a record as one of the world’s worst human rights abusers.

Equatorial Guinea regularly sees the detention of journalists and violent torture from police forces, placing the country among the least free places in the world, according to the human rights nonprofit Freedom House. Obiang’s agents have been accused of urinating on and maiming prisoners. Obiang himself has been alleged to cannibalize his political enemies.

As a vice president at Cassidy, Hochstein led the lobbying firm’s work with the Obiang government for a time. The lobbying firm reportedly helped Equatorial Guinea secure contracts with the United States government for building infrastructure, by which Obiang intended to transform his image in Washington foreign policy circles. Hochstein defended his work with the regime, saying Obiang’s government “has taken some serious steps that are moving the country in the right direction” and that his work helped “move the ball forward on human rights” in the country.

“He’s convinced me of his deep care for his people,” Hochstein told the Washington Post in 2006. “I’ve seen the changes.”

Hochstein declined comment. Cassidy Associates did not respond to a request for comment.

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