One of the Iraqi men identified by New Zealand First leader Winston Peters as having links with Saddam Hussein, has applied for refugee status.
Amer Mahdi Al-Khshali, a former Iraqi government minister, said in a statement through his Auckland lawyer today his life had been put in danger after he was named by Mr Peters in Parliament in “an abuse of the New Zealand parliamentary process for political gain”.
His lawyer, Simon Laurent said he had applied to the Immigration Service for refugee status for Mr Al-Khshali.
“Their claim is based on their fear of serious harm if they are forced to return to Iraq,” the statement said.
“The fear would not have arisen but for the publication of Mr Al-Khshali’s name in recent days, both nationally and internationally, and the links made between Mr Al-Khshali and the former government of Saddam Hussein.”
Mr Laurent said the abuse of the parliamentary process had put in danger the lives of private individuals in their years of retirement.
He also rejected unsubstantiated claims that Mr Al-Khshali had links with Algerian asylum seeker Ahmed Zaoui, who is now awaiting the outcome of court action to stay in the country.
He said Mr Zaoui’s presence did not influence Mr Al-Khshali’s decision to come to New Zealand.
He said they had decided to release details of the application for refugee status because Mr Al-Khshali’s privacy had been irreparably compromised by Mr Peters.
Mr Al-Khshali’s visitor permit has been revoked.
Prime Minister Helen Clark also criticised Mr Peters for naming the man, saying it strengthened legal action he could take to stay here.