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Archive for Wednesday, July 4, 2001

Two Iraqi diplomats seek asylum in U.S.

July 4, 2001

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— Iraq's deputy U.N. ambassador and another top envoy requested asylum for themselves and their families in a bid to remain in the United States, diplomatic and police sources confirmed Tuesday.

Well-placed diplomats said that both men had personal reasons for wanting to stay and noted that an asylum request was the only way to remain in the United States once their terms at the U.N. mission were up.

Police sources said Mohammed al-Humaimidi, the deputy ambassador, walked into a police station alone on Friday, identified himself and requested political asylum.

Senior diplomatic sources said Fela Hesan al-Rubaie, a senior counselor and the No. 4 at the mission, made an asylum request last month. The diplomatic and police sources all spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Iraqi diplomats were two of three or four diplomats at the Iraqi mission who were scheduled to return home to Iraq this month, according to diplomats.

An Iraqi envoy who defected earlier said the asylum requests were understandable.

"Many Iraqi officials, if they were given the chance, would take refuge in another country," said Safa al-Falaki, a former Iraqi ambassador to the Netherlands who resigned in 1992 and later received asylum.

Iraqi officials "are all against the regime in their hearts. Whoever stays is either doing so for personal benefit, out of fear of (the regime's) terror, or has limited options of where to go," al-Falaki said in a telephone interview from his home in the Netherlands.

As senior diplomats, both men seeking asylum would have detailed knowledge of Saddam Hussein's foreign policy objectives.

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