An Iranian ex-police officer who was placed by the British government on a planned flight from the UK to Rwanda has had his one-way ticket cancelled with less than 48 hours to go.
The man was one of at least four Iranian asylum seekers who arrived in the country in small boats in May and were told they would be sent to the central African country for their cases to be processed there.
The UK Home Office’s policy has drawn widespread condemnation and further legal challenges are understood to have been lodged with the High Court today. The plane is scheduled to leave on Tuesday night but could be prevented by claims it is unlawful.
Following huge backlash over the weekend, as of Monday afternoon the refugee support agency Care4Calais counted 23 people whose “removal directions” had been scrapped.
One of them is a former police commander who testified to the Aban Tribunal last year about human rights violations in Iran. He fled Iran for Turkey after being prosecuted for refusing to shoot at civilians during the November 2019 protests, then made it to the UK on May 14.
Speaking via an intermediary, the whistleblower thanked members of the media and campaigners for highlighting his and others’ case over the previous week. “I have mixed feelings,” he said. “I cannot be happy.
“My whole heart is with all the refugees who will be forced to take the flight to Kigali and seek asylum from the government of Rwanda, and according to Rwandan laws. I am also still very stressed about what will happen next.”