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Monday 28th
posted by Steve Sweeney in Britain

Pilot refuses to fly man who has been threatened by Taliban

A YOUNG man who could have faced death if returned to Afghanistan is still in Britain after the pilot on his deportation flight reportedly refused to take him.

Samim Bigzad, 22, was detained after he attended his monthly appointment at a London immigration office in July. His initial asylum claim was rejected in March 2016 and subsequent appeals were also refused.

He was due to be taken on a Turkish Airlines commercial flight via Istanbul on Saturday however campaigners said he is still in the country because he did not board the plane.

A protest group at Heathrow pleaded with the airline not to “collude with the British government and facilitate the deportation of a young man who faces execution if he returns to Afghanistan.”

They spoke with passengers and airline officials, who said they would pass on concerns to the captain and crew.

Protest organiser Bridget Chapman said: “Looks like the pilot refused to take him.”

Mr Bigzad has been the main carer for his father – a British citizen who suffers from PTSD following his torture and jailing by the Taliban almost 20 years ago – and had visited him every day at his B&B room, brought him food and accompanied him to the mosque.

Ms Rafferty had launched a petition appealing to Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis to allow him to stay in Britain so that he could gather fresh evidence for the review of his asylum application.

Mr Bigzad arrived in Britain in November 2015 having spent some time living in the Calais refugee camp in northern France.

He risked his life escaping Afghanistan after the Taliban threatened to behead him because the construction company he worked for had contracts with the Afghan government and US firms.

He was placed to live with Kavel Rafferty in Margate through the Kent Refugee Action Network and Refugees at Home.

Ms Rafferty said: “The pilot wouldn’t fly him. We can do things, we can change things. I know it’s not over, but this is a small victory for us, for kindness and something other.”

Home Office statistics show just 35 per cent of asylum applications from Afghanistan were accepted in 2016 despite humanitarian organisations urging the government to stop deportations.

The High Court ruled in March last year that deportations to Afghanistan could resume following a blanket ban imposed in August 2015.

A Home Office spokeswoman said that they would not comment on individual cases.