American Wrongly Accused of Participating in DRC Coup Attempt

It was a “big case of mistaken identity,” the man told ABC News.

A US citizen has been wrongly accused of being involved in last weekend’s coup attempt in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Cole Patrick Ducey, an engineer who lives in Eswatini, told ABC News on Monday that he was not involved, despite reports online and in the media. DRC government officials also confirmed to ABC News that Ducey was not involved in the weekend coup attempt.

Ducey told ABC News that he has been the subject of a “major case of mistaken identity,” with his name appearing in social media posts and news articles that wrongly suggest he was arrested Sunday in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“I heard about what happened yesterday on the news just like you did,” he said.

DRC authorities told ABC News that the coup attempt was led by Christian Malanga, a DRC businessman and politician with ties to the United States. Malanga died in the coup attempt, officials said.

Officials also told ABC News that a U.S. citizen, Benjamin Zalman-Polun, had been arrested on suspicion of involvement in the coup attempt. ABC News could not immediately locate a legal representative for Zalman-Polun.

Ducey verified his identity by sending ABC News a video in which he showed an identification document. ABC News further verified Ducey’s identity by reviewing public records.

Ducey told ABC News that he attended the University of Colorado with Zalman-Polun in 2006 and 2007. The two lost contact for many years, Ducey said, until Zalman-Polun contacted Ducey in 2020 about a business opportunity in the mining sector. At that time, Ducey said Zalman-Polun introduced him to Malanga in a phone call.

In 2022, Ducey said, the trio met in Mozambique to review mining concessions. Ducey said they founded a limited liability company, but were unable to find a viable place to operate and did not continue to work together.

Zalman-Polun, Malanga and Ducey are listed as partners in that LLC, according to records in the official gazette of the Mozambique government.

Those records, which are publicly available, appear to have led to the case of mistaken identity.

However, Ducey claims, and DRC government officials claim, that he was not part of the weekend coup attempt in any way.