Page last updated at 05:47 GMT, Monday, 18 May 2009 06:47 UK

Maze escaper faces US deportation

Pól Brennan fled to America after escaping from the Maze
Pól Brennan faces being deported from the United States

Maze prison escaper Pól Brennan faces deportation from the United States from Monday.

The Belfast man was arrested at a border checkpoint in Texas in 2008 because his US work permit had expired.

He escaped from the Maze in 1983, along with 37 other republican prisoners.

While he has appealed to the head of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano to overturn the decision, he has received a deportation date of 18 May.

The 56-year-old said on his support website last week that his time was running out.

"This is my last chance - we shall have to pressure Homeland Security and secure enough time for my legal team to prepare all documentation needed to support my waiver," he said.

"Janet Napolitano has sole and unreviewable discretion whether or not to grant this waiver."

An online petition calling for a halt to the deportation - active from last April - currently has more than 1,500 signatures.

He was arrested in January 2008, while driving with Joanna Volz, his American wife of 20 years, to visit friends in Texas.

Mr Brennan was detained at an immigration checkpoint because his work permit had expired. While he had applied to renew the document, authorities had not sent it to him.

Last November, a federal immigration judge ruled he should be deported from the US.

The biggest jail break in the UK history took place from the high security Maze prison on 25 September 1983 when 38 republican prisoners escaped.

Prison officer James Ferris died of a heart attack after being stabbed while attempting to stop the escape.

Ten of the prisoners were recaptured in the first few hours, but the remainder went on the run with some emerging in north America.

Pól Brennan, Kevin Artt, James Smyth and Terrence Kirby were arrested in the United States between 1992 and 1994 and fought lengthy legal battles against extradition.

Smyth was extradited back to Northern Ireland in 1996 and returned to prison, before being released in 1998 as part of the Good Friday Agreement.

In 2000, the British government announced that the extradition requests for Brennan, Artt and Kirby were being withdrawn as part of the Good Friday Agreement.

The men officially remain fugitives, but in 2003 the Prison Service said they were not being "actively pursued".

It is understood that if deported Mr Brennan will be sent to the Republic of Ireland.

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