KUALA LUMPUR: The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is requesting the government to immediately release Hassan al-Kontar who was arrested at the KL International Airport 2 on Monday.
It asked Malaysia to respect international laws relating to his situation, in particular, the principle of non-refoulement.
“The UNHCR has not had access to him yet and is unable to provide any further information on his current situation,” UNHCR Associate External Relations Officer Yante Ismail told theSun in a statement today.
“Hassan al-Kontar is registered with UNHCR as a person of concern and, as such, is in need of international protection”.
Al-Kontar was arrested after almost seven months stranded in a Malaysian airport, an official said Tuesday, in a bizarre saga that drew comparisons with hit movie “The Terminal“.
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He had been stuck at the budget terminal of Kuala Lumpur International Airport since March 7, when officials refused to let him board a flight to Ecuador.
Al-Kontar, reportedly sought by authorities in his homeland for failing to serve in the military, was also refused entry into Cambodia and not allowed back into Malaysia due to visa issues.
The 36-year-old was left stranded in the terminal, surviving on donated airline meals and washing in the toilets.
Al-Kontar’s case is reminiscent of the 2004 film “The Terminal,” in which Tom Hanks plays a man who finds himself stuck in a New York airport after his government collapses, rendering his papers useless.
Reports say Kontar had been working in the United Arab Emirates but was deported to Malaysia in January 2017.
However, he overstayed a three-month tourist visa and is now blacklisted, meaning he cannot re-enter the country.
He flew to Cambodia but was refused entry before being sent back to Kuala Lumpur airport on March 7.