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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 June 2006, 15:49 GMT 16:49 UK
Sakchai campaign for Tony Blair
Sakchai Makao
Sakchai Makao has lived on the island since he was 10
Campaigners on Shetland hoping to stop the deportation of a young Thai man plan to appeal directly to Prime Minister Tony Blair with petitions.

Sakchai Makao is being held as part of a Home Office crackdown on foreign nationals with a criminal record.

The 23-year-old spent eight months in jail for fire-raising two years ago.

Thousands of people have signed petitions and campaigner David Gardner said: "We feel this has to go on Tony Blair's desk."

Downing Street

Mr Makao, who has lived on the island since he was 10, was taken from his home in Lerwick a week ago and is being held at Durham Jail.

A major campaign has been launched in Shetland to fight the deportation of the sports centre worker and talented athlete.

More than 7,000 islanders have backed his case.

Mr Gardner told the BBC Scotland news website: "The plan is to get to 10 Downing Street and hand the petitions straight in."

Tavish Scott, Lib Dem MSP for Shetland and Scotland's transport minister, earlier appealed for the Home Secretary, John Reid, to allow the release of Mr Makao.

Campaigners in Shetland are calling for Mr Makao's release

His comments came at a rally in Lerwick attended by about 800 people on Tuesday night.

Mr Makao's lawyer has made an application for bail on her client's behalf.

The Home Office said it could not comment on individual cases.

Mr Makao was sentenced to 15 months in prison in January 2004 for fire-raising.

Lerwick Sheriff Court heard a mobile building and car were destroyed by fire when he was drunk in "two moments of madness" in 2002.

Mr Makao has won athletics medals in Shetland, taking part in sports such as the long jump and triple jump.

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