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National Briefing

Washington, D.c.

Journalist from Pakistan is freed

August 20, 2009|Times Wire Reports

U.S. immigration officials released a visiting Pakistani journalist employed by the U.S.-run Voice of America news service, 10 days after taking him into custody at Dulles International Airport.

Rahman Bunairee, 33, was hoping to find refuge in the U.S. after receiving threats from Islamic militants displeased with his reports about their activities in Pakistan.

Officials at VOA quickly arranged to bring Bunairee to the U.S. on a J-1 visa, used by research institutions to sponsor scholars on temporary exchange programs.

Bunairee's attorney, Paul Virtue, said that during the journalist's initial interview with a customs official, "essentially the officer determined that [Bunairee's] principal purpose for coming to the United States was to get out of Pakistan. . . . So they found him not to be admissible under J-1 status."

Bunairee was detained until an asylum officer could interview him to determine whether his fear is "credible." An officer did so and decided that he had reason to fear, making him eligible for parole while he requests asylum or other relief.

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