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Tibetan monk held in Hawaii

Associated Press, Oct 7, 2008

Hawaii, USA -- A Tibetan monk remains locked up indefinitely at a federal detention center here despite being granted political asylum in the U.S. last month.

Pema Wangyal is being held while the Department of Homeland Security appeals a judge's order that granted him political asylum, a process his attorney says could take from six months to several years.

"There is no reason he should be sitting in jail. He's not a terrorist. He's not a security threat or threat to the community," attorney Emmanuel Guerrero said.

The 38-year-old Wangyal arrived in Hawai'i on June 26 and was detained when customs officials found his Indian-issued identity certificate incorrectly listed his age, height and birth country.

Wangyal told officials he purchased the certificate in New Delhi and acknowledged he failed to mention on his visa application that he had been denied a visa in Taiwan in 2004 using a different identity certificate.

Wangyal, who was born in Tibet and lives in exile in India, was scheduled to give a series of lectures on a classical Buddhist text in August.

The U.S. claims Wangyal is eligible for permanent resettlement in India. Wangyal wants to return to India, but is fearful officials there will either imprison him for using false identification documents or send him to Tibet, where he could face persecution from the Chinese.

If India refuses to accept Wangyal, the only other place U.S. officials can send him is Tibet, the attorney said.

"If I returned to Tibet, I would be jailed ... and executed," Wangyal told an officer, through an interpreter.

Wangyal was granted asylum on Sept. 2 by U.S. Immigration Judge Dayna Beamer.


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