Asif might seek for political asylum in Britain

Published: Thursday, September 9, 2010, 14:44 [IST]
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Asif might seek for political asylum

Pakistan fast bowler, Mohammad Asif who has been suspended by the ICC for his alleged involvement in spot-fixing and under investigation for the same has reportedly considered to seek political asylum in Britain fearing a violent backlash at home.

Asif fears that match fixing allegations could make him the potential target of dangerous criminal gangs linked to the illegal betting underworld.

The Daily Telegraph reported that the Pakistan bowler had a 35-minute meeting with an immigration lawyer last Friday. During the meeting, he told the lawyer that he feared the allegations of spot-fixing in the fourth Test match against England could make him the target of dangerous criminal gangs linked to the illegal betting underworld.

The newspaper said that the 27-year-old fast bowler asked an intermediary to arrange a meeting with the lawyer in London last week, and the meeting apparently took place on Friday in a Pakistani restaurant in Southall, west London.

'He didn't say anything about asylum at first. He just said, 'What's the way to stay?' Then we told him there's the student way - you can come here to study - or you can apply for a work permit. But then he asked about asylum,' the daily quoted a lawyer, who arranged the meeting, as telling it on the condition of anonymity.

The reports also stated that Asif was visibly 'very anxious' and was accompanied by an unidentified older man.

'I think he's just worried about the backlash at home -- that's what he told me. There's been a lot of talk and there are undercover betting mafias with a lot of power. That seemed to be what he was worried about,' the lawyer said.

Asif also asked the lawyer to what would be a way to stay in Britain and also went on to discuss the asylum process with the solicitor, from London firm Malik and Malik.

The daily also reported that Asif would await the results of investigations by Scotland Yard and the International Cricket Council (ICC).

Asif maintains that he is innocent, but criminal charges carry a potential jail term and the ICC could ban him for life from the sport.

Immigration experts said Asif had a good chance of getting asylum if he can prove a considerable threat to his life.

It is tough for Pakistanis to be granted asylum, and according to Home Office figures in 2009, only 65 were given shelter in Britain.

A leading immigration lawyer also said that Asif could apply for refugee status if he first proved a well-founded fear of being persecuted' by a gang who were out to cause him harm.


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