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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 April, 2003, 22:17 GMT 23:17 UK
POW's Iraqi hero gets asylum
Jessica Lynch, on a stretcher
The rescue of Jessica Lynch is set to be made into a film

An Iraqi lawyer who helped the US military find and rescue prisoner of war Jessica Lynch has been granted asylum in the United States.

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said Mohammed al-Rehaief, his wife and their five-year-old daughter arrived in the US this month and were granted asylum on Monday.

Mr Rehaief tipped off US marines as to the whereabouts of Private Lynch, who was wounded and captured in southern Iraq in March.

He spotted the 19-year-old prisoner at a hospital where she was being held, and reportedly walked several miles to reach US marines.

He drew a map to help the marines find her. They rescued Private Lynch in a dramatic night-time raid on 1 April, nine days after she was captured.

"Mr al-Rehaief should know Americans are grateful for his bravery and for his compassion," Mr Ridge told reporters.

He said Mr Rehaief put his life at risk and the lives of his family members.

"That was a humanitarian impulse," said Mr Ridge.

New life

Soon after the rescue, Mr Rehaief told reporters he had looked through a window at the hospital in the town of Nasiriya, where his wife worked as a nurse, and had seen Private Lynch being slapped by an Iraqi security agent.

He said he decided he had to tell US forces where to find her.

Private Lynch suffered a head wound, two broken legs, a broken arm, broken foot and a broken ankle. She is receiving medical treatment in Washington.

After the servicewoman was rescued, Mr Rehaief and his family stayed at a refugee camp in Iraq, before arriving in the Washington area on 10 April.

The lawyer and is family can stay in the US indefinitely. They can apply for permanent residency in a year's time and five years after that they will be eligible to apply for citizenship.

Mr Ridge said Mr Rehaief and his family hoped to meet Private Lynch, but that no plans had yet been made.




SEE ALSO:
Rescued POW returns to US
13 Apr 03  |  Middle East
Saving Private Lynch 'film plan'
11 Apr 03  |  Entertainment
US POW 'freed after tip-off'
04 Apr 03  |  Middle East
US town celebrates POW rescue
02 Apr 03  |  Middle East


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