NAIROBI, Kenya -- Nine American missionaries were ordered to leave Kenya Wednesday after they were accused of plotting with the Ku Klux Klan to overthrow the government of President Daniel arap Moi, a charge the U.S. government said is false.
The members of three American missions in western Kenya were given a week to pack their belongings and leave, a statement from the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi said.
The missionaries, brought to Nairobi under police escort Wednesday to answer charges of being involved in a coup plot, had their passports confiscated and were told without explanation they would be deported, the embassy said.
Ordered out were Dick and Jane Hamilton, James Heberling, all of Medford, Ore., and Leroy Hawn, 52, of Anchorage, Alaska, who are members of the East African Christian Mission.
Also ordered out were George and Vicky Lacey of the Geneva-based Helimission, Justin and Diane Sylvester of the Canton, Ohio, Christian Church, and Gilford Van Smith, whose hometown was not immediately available.
Hamilton, who has run the EAC Mission for the past 12 years and adopted a Kenyan son, said Tuesday, 'We have done nothing but build schools, clinics and wells and brought free education and medical care to the people in our district.'
Last Friday, seven other U.S. missionaries based in the same area were deported for allegedly plotting with the Klan to overthrow black African governments, including Kenya's.
But a U.S. Embassy statement said a letter written on the stationery of a small rural church in North Carolina soliciting funds from the Klan was a forgery.
The missionaries 'appear to have been the victims of a hoax or fraudulent scheme which the American authorities are still investigating. The American government is seeking the support of the government in Kenya in explaining the facts to the public,' the embassy said.
FBI investigators determined the letter was written not by a minister of the Foscoe Christian Church of North Carolina as alleged, but by preacher David M.S. Kimweli, who was born in Kenya and lived in Carolltown, Ga. He is being south by American immigration officials.
Officials of the Smokey Mountain Church in Sevierville, Tenn., said Kimweli had been raising money for nonexistent churches in Kenya and had been defrocked.
U.S. officials suspected Kimweli wrote the letter to take revenge against the seven deported missionaries, whom he had invited to Kenya. When the missionaries arrived they found no churches to sponsor them, and complained to the U.S. Embassy, which began to investigate Kimweli.
Diplomatic sources said they were puzzled by the extensive coverage government-controlled newspapers gave the story. An embassy spokesman said, 'We are worried by what the continual hysteria might lead to.'
Kenyan newspapers carried front-page reports on the alleged plot, and despite carrying an embassy statement it was a hoax, Nairobi's The Standard alleged a link Wednesday between the deported missionaries and another group of American missionaries who last year were accused of gun smuggling.
Two missionaries belonging to the Associated Christian Churches of Kenya were detained in September 1986 after customs officials claimed they had seized a consignment of guns, maps and military communication equipment.
No charges were ever brought. One of the missionaries died of a heart attack while in police custody.