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Last Updated: Friday, 4 August 2006, 12:12 GMT 13:12 UK
Timeline of Afghan hijacker case
Special Forces officer patrols near the Afghan passenger aircraft
Special Forces officers patrolled near the aircraft at Stansted
Home Secretary John Reid has lost his Court of Appeal battle to limit the rights of nine Afghan hijackers living in the UK. It is the latest legal development in a case which began more than six years ago.

February 2000 - Nine Afghan men who are fleeing the Taleban regime hijack a Boeing 727 on an internal flight in their native country and force the crew to fly to Stansted, Essex.

December 2001 - The nine Afghans are all convicted of hijacking, false imprisonment, possessing firearms with intent to cause fear of violence and possessing explosives.

June 2003 - The Appeal Court finds they were acting under duress and quashes their convictions.

July 2004 - A panel of adjudicators rules that returning the nine men to Afghanistan would breach their human rights as they risk being attacked by members of the Taleban. The then home secretary David Blunkett calls the decision "mind boggling".

November 2005 - After a period of delay, the hijackers are granted only temporary admission to Britain by the then home secretary Charles Clarke.

May 2006 - Mr Justice Sullivan at the High Court rules it is unlawful under the 1971 Immigration Act to keep the Afghans on temporary leave. He accuses the Home Office of "an abuse of power by a public authority at the highest level" by ignoring its own laws which had allowed the men to stay.

The judge says the nine men are entitled to "discretionary leave" to enter and remain in the UK, subject to review every six months.

The ruling does not entitle the Afghans to full refugee status but they can work, possibly claim state benefits and support their families in the UK.

However, Prime Minister Tony Blair calls the ruling "an abuse of common sense".

July 2006 - Home Secretary John Reid goes to the Court of Appeal to fight the ruling.

Mr Reid's lawyers claim immigration law allows him to impose "temporary admission" status and limit the men's ability to work and enjoy other freedoms.

August 2006 - The Court of Appeal dismisses the Home Office's appeal.


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