This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:
Afghan asylum seeker released
by Adrian Troughton
An Afghan asylum seeker who was due to be deported has been released from detention.
Campaigners yesterday said they were delighted after Abdul Ghafar Rajabali arrived back in Leicester.
The 23-year-old, who feared he would be killed if sent back to Afghanistan, was taken to a detention centre near Gatwick airport 10 days ago.
However, the Home Office yesterday confirmed he had been released temporarily and that his case was being reviewed.
Pam Inder, chairman of the Leicester City of Sanctuary group, which has been working with Mr Rajabali, said all Mr Rajabali’s supporters were “very happy”.
She said: “We understand it is only a temporary release but it is always better not to be in prison than be in prison.
“Abdul’s position is still very precarious. At least he knows he is with friends.
“I have spoken to him on the phone and will see him in the next few days.”
Mr Rajabali’s parents and family were murdered when he was a baby.
He entered Britain illegally as a traumatised 16-year-old in August 2006, after fleeing to escape being forced to fight for the Taliban.
He applied for asylum but was turned down and started living rough in Leicester.
Mr Rajabali was detained on May 10 by the Border Agency. He was released on Wednesday night and arrived back in Leicester early yesterday morning.
Ms Inder said Mr Rajabali has been overwhelmed by the support he has received from people in Leicester.
She said: “He was very emotional when I spoke to him and he said he was very grateful for all the support from everyone in Leicester.
“As I understand it, he will have to have an interview with Home Office officials in the next few days and could even be re-detained.
“I must stress that this is not a solution to this matter and that it could rumble on for years before we get a final decision on whether Abdul can stay in this country.”
Leicester City of Sanctuary has helped Mr Rajabali in his dealings with the Border Agency. The group started an e-petition calling on Home Secretary Teresa May to stop his deportation, which has so far been backed by more than 3,500 people.
Leicester South MP Jon Ashworth, who took up Mr Rajabali’s case with the Home Office, welcomed the news he had been released from detention.
He said: “I am pleased that Mr Rajabali has been released from the detention centre and is back in Leicester with friends and supporters.
“We shall carry on supporting him in his fight to stay in the UK.”
A Home Office spokesman confirmed Mr Rajabali had been released on Wednesday.
He said: “Mr Rajabali was released from detention after providing further information in relation to his case, which is now being considered.”