A senior judge who prosecuted terrorists and is now hiding in Afghanistan feels “heartbroken, abandoned and stabbed” by the UK government for refusing to take him to safety despite a High Court ruling in his favour.
The top judge, whom the Guardian is not naming for his safety, also received strong backing from two former independent reviewers of terrorism legislation.
He has worked closely with British and American forces to pursue Taliban, Isis, al-Qaeda and Haqqani Network terrorists captured in Afghanistan, and is at such high risk that he has to hide in places separate from the rest. of his family, which are also in cache. He cannot have direct phone conversations lest his location be revealed.
A High Court ruling from April 1 this year backed his claim for asylum in the UK.
The British government has accepted that he is in danger in Afghanistan, but says he does not meet the political criteria to be brought to the UK. Officials said his contribution to the UK’s counter-terrorism work in Afghanistan was ‘minimal’ and that because the court where he prosecuted terrorists captured by allies was an Afghan institution, he was not a direct employee of the UK Government.
The judge has to make a very dangerous trip to Pakistan to a UK visa processing center to get his biometrics for a visa application. However, if the British government then refuses the visa, he could be deported from Pakistan to Afghanistan and placed directly in the hands of the Taliban.
The High Court ruling by Mrs Justice Lieven says: ‘I accept that if this were to happen it would place JZ [anonymised initials used in the ruling] and perhaps his family in real and immediate danger of death.
She added that the UK government had not applied its discretion to defer biometrics “rationally”.
Former independent terrorism law reviewers Lord Carlile and Lord Anderson wrote to the Home Office on April 15 urging them to reconsider their decision not to allow the judge to come to the UK.
“The judges’ courageous acceptance of responsibility for the incorruptible trial of the terrorists…has made a significant contribution to the lives of Afghans and to international counter-terrorism efforts,” they said in their letter.
In a second case where the government left Afghans at risk in their home country, an Afghan interpreter who worked for British forces was seriously injured in a Taliban bombing before being transferred to United Kingdom has been trying for eight months to bring her parents and brothers from Afghanistan to safety in Britain.
However, a letter from the Ministry of Defense (MoD) dated April 26 said authorities had not yet been able to confirm the eligibility of the man’s family for the Afghan resettlement and assistance scheme. and urged his supporters not to go public with the matter.
The hidden judge said through an intermediary: “I am shocked by the government’s decision to refuse to relocate me to the UK. I was once considered an important ally, I was safe due to the imminent threat I faced, and I received certificates of appreciation for my material contribution to the UK counter-terrorism mission and its allies in Afghanistan.
“I don’t regret bringing justice to those who killed innocent people, including members of the UK government, but I am heartbroken, I feel abandoned and I feel stabbed by the government for refusing to relocate to the UK. I beg them to save my life and that of my family.
A Ministry of Defense spokesperson said officials were unable to comment on individual cases: “We recognize the difficult circumstances faced by Afghans applying to relocate to the UK under the Afghan Assistance and Resettlement Policy (Arap) program and process applications as quickly as possible. To date, we have transferred over 9,000 applicants and their dependents to the UK. The program remains open and is not limited in time, and we are determined to continue this work.