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Government should demand Saffi's immediate release


7 July 2002

Government should demand Saffi's immediate release

Green Party Foreign Affairs spokesperson Keith Locke today said US officials were not telling the truth when they said Mohammed Saffi needed a student visa to do a flight systems test in Miami.

"It is quite clear from the State Department website (travel.state.govt) that those who 'take a short course of study of less than 18 hours per week' do not need a student visa," said Mr Locke.

"Mr Saffi was only going to be at the flight school for two days this week, and two days next week - to get his aircraft engineering certification for 727 planes updated. The US authorities were fully informed of Mr Saffi's background and what he was doing before he even left New Zealand.

"It is very disappointing that our government has not defended the rights of Mr Saffi as a New Zealand citizen and demanded the US authorities release him from custody," said Mr Locke.

"Foreign Minister Phil Goff seems to have bought the phoney excuse that there was a visa irregularity.

"Whatever the anti-terrorist hysteria in the United States, Mr Goff should not use concern about terrorists as a justification for the American victimisation of Mr Saffi.

"We must stand up for the rights of all New Zealanders. The American authorities should release Mr Saffi and let him do his flight simulator test," said Mr Locke.

ENDS

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