MINNEAPOLIS — Four U.S. citizens were sentenced in federal court for their roles in a failed attempt to overthrow the government in the West African nation of Gambia, the U.S. attorney’s office said Thursday.



The men were sentenced for conspiring to violate the Neutrality Act, which makes it illegal to take military action against a country with which the United States is “at peace.” The charges stemmed from a Dec. 30, 2014, coup attempt in the former British colony, which came as longtime President Yahya Jammeh was away.



“These defendants conspired to overthrow a foreign government,” U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger said in a statement. “Regardless of the legitimacy of their personal and emotional connections to The Gambia, these men placed countless innocents in harm’s way when they engaged in a brazen and fatally flawed attempt at regime change.”



Cherno Njie, 58, of Lakeway, Texas, was sentenced to a year and a day in prison. Prosecutors say Njie was a financier and would have served as the interim leader of Gambia had the coup succeeded.