The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has decided to appeal an April decision by a U.S. immigration judge granting asylum to separatist Chechen diplomat Ilyas Akhmadov. A July 2 statement from the American Committee for Peace in Chechnya said that the department’s appeal “discredits America’s reputation as a leader in the fight for freedom and justice in the world.” ACPC disputed the department’s linkage of Akhmadov to terrorist actions.
“On the contrary,” said ACPC, ” as the evidence presented in court consistently demonstrated, Mr. Akhmadov has never abetted or supported terrorism, but in fact opposes it. Mr. Akhmadov’s frequent and fervent denunciations of terrorism, combined with his dedicated espousal of a peaceful resolution to the Chechen war, have earned him the praise and support of such prominent Americans as Senators John McCain and Edward Kennedy, former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, and former Secretaries of State Alexander Haig and Madeleine Albright. Mr. Akhmadov has suffered tremendously as a result of this protracted asylum process. Stranded in a legal limbo, he remains separated from his family, whom he has not seen in almost two years. If this appeal is allowed to stand, the asylum process could continue for another two years (or more). If the United States denies Mr. Akhmadov asylum, we will be defaulting on our fundamental responsibility to assist victims of political tyranny.”