Give us same rights as Iraqi heroes, plead asylum trio

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THREE Afghan nationals who risked their lives working for the UK armed forces and civilian missions in Afghanistan are threatening to sue the government unless they are given the same rights to settle here as interpreters who worked in Iraq.

Lawyers for the men, two of whom are already in the UK, have written to the Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence asking for the “targeted assisted scheme” which operates in Iraq to be extended to Afghanistan. The scheme allows qualifying staff the right to resettle in the UK or to a one-off payment.

Mohammed Rafi Hotak, who started working as an interpreter for British forces in 2006, received death threats and was attacked on several occasions before fleeing to the UK where he was recently granted asylum, his lawyers said.

Mr Hotak, 26, fled Afghanistan in July last year, leaving behind his wife, who was pregnant with their third child. He was granted asylum in October but faces a long wait to be reunited with his family.

He said he was grateful for asylum. “But the government should also help our families. Putting us here and them there [in Afghanistan] is not fair.”

His brother Abdul Latif, a father of three, who was employed by the US military as an interpreter from 2003 and then by British forces between 2007 and 2012, is still in Afghanistan where he lives in fear of his life, Mr Hotak’s lawyers said. They added that he had received a threat which suggested when international troops withdrew, he would be killed as his “infidel friends” would be unable to save him.

A third man, Ahmadullah Pashtoon, worked for the British from 2007 until 2012. His father and two cousins were murdered in October 2010 as a result, the lawyers said, and fearing for his life, he sought shelter in the UK embassy in Kabul. He is now in the UK awaiting a ruling on his asylum claim.