A man who helped Coalition forces in Iraq as an interpreter has been sent back to the strife-torn country by the Australian government, despite saying his father, who was also an interpreter, was murdered in front of him.
ABC’s Lateline program details the circumstances surrounding Khaled (not his real name), who was also charged $20,000 by the government for his repatriation, tonight.
The man agreed to return after spending two years in the Villawood and Christmas Island detention centres, Lateline reports.
“They said to me if I don’t sign the removal I am going to be stuck in Christmas Island for a very long time,” he told the program.
He’d worked for the US Army as an interpreter and served “with honour and distinction” according to his record, but fled Iraq after his father was allegedly killed in front of him at the family home.
Khaled arrived in Australia by boat and was given both temporary safe haven and bridging visas, but was detained again after allegedly being caught using drugs.
He was charged with offensive language, resisting police and driving without a licence, but the first two charges were dismissed and while he pleaded guilty to driving without a licence, no conviction was recorded. However, because of laws introduced by the Rudd government in 2013, Khaled’s bridging visa was cancelled and he remained in detention.
In detention he developed an ice addiction which led to further charges, including damaging Commonwealth property.
Before returning to Iraq, he signed a waiver that acknowledged Khaled was one of 9,000 asylum seekers whose personal details inadvertently revealed on the Department of Immigration’s website in 2014 and that the department could not guarantee his safety.
Immigration minister Peter Dutton told Lateline that he would not comment on individual cases.
“The Government obviously takes a decision on individuals about whether or not we issue visas in certain circumstances and people then make their own judgments about whether they return to any country,” he said.
Khaled is now back in Iraq.
The Lateline report is being broadcast tonight at 9.30pm AEDT on ABC News 24 and 10.30pm on ABC TV.
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