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Saturday, 12 February, 2000, 17:32 GMT
Taleban: Asylum seekers welcome

Passengers released from the plane More ex-hostages are expected to apply for asylum


By Kate Clark in Kandahar

The Taleban authorities in Kabul have rejected claims by some Afghans and aid workers that failed asylum applicants would be treated badly if they returned to Afghanistan.

The Taleban said only the judiciary would be able to determine if any had committed offences.

hostage at window Taleban: Failed asylum applicants welcome
Everyone at Kandahar airport is getting ready to welcome more than 30 hostages from the hijacked Ariana Airlines plane who have asked to come home to Afghanistan.

More than 70 others have asked for political asylum in the UK, and their fate is not yet clear.

The Taleban has angrily rejected comments by some people living in Kabul that they would view asylum seekers as traitors.

Up to courts

The deputy Information and Culture Minister, Abdul-Rahman Ahmad Hotaq, said they would not pre-judge any case.

He said the justice system would have to determine if any offences had been committed.

Mr Hotaq said millions of Afghans were living abroad as refugees, forced to leave by the hardship of 20 years of war.

As far as the Taleban were concerned, all were welcome to return home.

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See also:
11 Feb 00 |  South Asia
Afghan rights under spotlight
12 Feb 00 |  UK
Crew tell of hijack terror
12 Feb 00 |  From Our Own Correspondent
'I want to be a hostage'
10 Feb 00 |  South Asia
Analysis: Afghan hijack aftermath

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