Asylum Decision Delayed for Afghan Who Fled US Training


BUFFALO, N.Y. — An Afghan military officer who said he would be a target of the Taliban if sent home is awaiting an immigration judge's decision on whether he can stay in the United States.

Maj. Jan Arash appeared Tuesday in U.S. Immigration Court in western New York, where Judge Steven Connelly was expected to rule on his asylum claim. Instead, the judge took the case under advisement and will issue a decision later, Arash's attorney, Matthew Borowski said.

"I think it bodes well for Arash because clearly the judge wants to consider the issues more thoroughly," the attorney said.

Arash is one of three Afghan military officers who fled a U.S.-led military training exercise in Massachusetts in September with hopes of entering Canada. Instead, they were turned away at the border and handed over to U.S. authorities, who detained them and initiated deportation proceedings.

One of the officers, Nasir Askarzada, has since been allowed into Canada because he has relatives there.

Arash and the third soldier, Capt. Noorullah Aminyar, are seeking asylum in the United States.

Aminyar's trial is scheduled to begin on Thursday inside a courtroom at the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility in Batavia, where he and Arash have been held since taking a cab from Massachusetts to Niagara Falls, New York, and then walking across the Rainbow Bridge into Niagara Falls, Ontario.

In interviews with The Associated Press, the soldiers said they and their families have been threatened by the Taliban for training and fighting alongside U.S. soldiers. They said they fear they will be killed if returned to Afghanistan.

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