Pakistani authorities arrest son-in-law of ousted premier Sharif

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Mohammad Safdar, center, son-in-law of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif leads a rally in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Sunday, on July 8, 2018. (ANJUM NAVEED/AP)
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Pakistani authorities arrested Captain (Retd) Muhammad Safdar Awan in Rawalpindi on Sunday, July 8, 2018. (Photo courtesy: PML-N media wing)
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Captain (Retd) Muhammad Safdar Awan waving hands to party supporters in Rawalpindi on July 8, 2018. (Photo courtesy: PML-N media wing)
Updated 09 July 2018
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Pakistani authorities arrest son-in-law of ousted premier Sharif

  • Mohammad Safdar went into hiding after an anti-graft court convicted him last Friday
  • Safdar dramatically appeared with hundreds of supporters, marching down the city’s streets Sunday for hours with the crowd growing

KARACHI: Pakistani authorities on Sunday arrested the son-in-law of ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was on Friday sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison over a corruption ruling linked to his family’s purchase of luxury flats in London.
Sharif’s daughter Maryam, seen as his chosen political heir, was sentenced to seven years in prison and her husband Muhammad Safdar was given a one-year jail term in a ruling many see as a blow to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party before the July 25 election.
Pakistan’s anti-corruption National Accountability Bureau (NAB) said in a statement that Muhammad Safdar handed himself in. Earlier in the day Safdar and supporters had driven around the garrison city of Rawalpindi holding impromptu rallies, local television showed.
“After continued raids of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) at his houses in Abbottabad, Mansehra and Haripur, Captain Safdar decided to surrender before NAB,” NAB said,
NAB also requested media not to air Safdar’s live speeches, saying they are against the law and the code of conduct of the country’s media regulator.
After the verdict on Friday, Safdar said “justice has been massacred” and railed against the judiciary.
Sharif was jailed as the family could not explain how the obtained funds to purchase four luxury flats in London’s exclusive Hyde Park area. Maryam was given a prison term for allegedly providing a forged trust deed, for which Safdar was a witness.
Sharif and his daughter would return to Pakistan on July 13 from London where they are tending to the veteran leader’s wife, Kulsoom, who is being treated for cancer and is in a coma after suffering a heart attack last month.
“We will reach Lahore on July 13,” Maryam told reporters.
Sharif and Maryam will face arrest on arrival in Pakistan just before the election, in which his party is in a tight race with opposition figure Imran Khan’s party.
Both Sharif and Maryam deny wrongdoing and plan to appeal the NAB decision.
Sharif had denounced the court proceedings against him as politically motivated and a judicial witch-hunt, often suggesting the military was to blame.
Pakistan’s military, which has ruled the nuclear-armed country for almost half its history, denies involvement in civilian politics.
Sharif was ousted by the Supreme Court in July 2017 and barred from politics for being “dishonest” by failing to report a monthly income of 10,000 Emirati dirhams ($2,723) from a company owned by his son. He denies drawing the monthly salary.


Flight attendant detained by immigration on return to US

Updated 29 min 54 sec ago
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Flight attendant detained by immigration on return to US

  • Selene Saavedra Roma immigrated illegally to the US from Peru as a child and was later married to an American citizen
  • Enrolled in the government’s program for “Dreamers”, she flew to Mexico for work and was detained due to lack of valid document

WASHINGTON: A Texas flight attendant who was enrolled in the government’s program for “Dreamers” flew to Mexico for work and was stopped by immigration authorities who forced her to spend more than a month in detention, her attorney said.
Selene Saavedra Roman, 28, who immigrated illegally to the US as a child, was released Friday from a detention center in Conroe, Texas, according to a statement from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Originally from Peru and married to an American citizen, she raised concerns with Mesa Airlines about her immigration status after being assigned to an international flight, attorney Belinda Arroyo said.
The airline assured her she would be fine, but she was stopped by US authorities on Feb. 12, when she returned to Houston, and was sent to detention, where she remained for more than five weeks, Arroyo said.
Soon after her lawyer, her husband, the airline and a flight attendants’ group publicly demanded her release, Saavedra Roman called to tell her husband she was getting out.
“She was crying and she said, ‘Please come get me,’” her husband, David Watkins, told reporters.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement said the agency was looking into her status. Earlier, the agency said Saavedra Roman did not have a valid document to enter the country and was being detained while going through immigration court proceedings.
US Citizenship and Immigration Services — the agency that oversees the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA — declined to discuss the case. But the agency says on its website that participants who travel outside the country without a special document allowing them to do so are no longer covered by the program.
The agency no longer issues the document to the program’s enrollees, according to the website.
People enrolled in the program are commonly referred to as “Dreamers,” based on never-passed proposals in Congress called the DREAM Act.
The Trump administration sought to end the Obama-era program but was blocked by litigation. New applications have been halted, but renewals continue for hundreds of thousands of immigrants already enrolled.
In a joint statement with the Association of Flight Attendants, Mesa Airlines chief executive Jonathan Ornstein apologized to Saavedra Roman and asked US authorities to release her, arguing that it was unfair to continually detain someone “over something that is nothing more than an administrative error and a misunderstanding.”
“She should have never been advised that she could travel,” Arroyo said. “It was a big mistake.”
Saavedra Roman — who is scheduled to appear before an immigration judge in April — attended Texas A&M University, where she met her husband.
Watkins said he was not initially worried about her assignment because they already obtained approval from Citizenship and Immigration Services to apply for her green card as the wife of an American citizen. She has no criminal record and has long paid her taxes, he said, and she checked with her employer before the trip.
Then she was detained. He could visit her only once a week and could only see her through thick glass. She sounded hopeless, he said.
“I told her, ‘Even if you get deported to Peru, I’ll just go with you,’” he said to reporters. “Regardless of whatever happens in the future, I am not giving up. I am going to keep fighting.”
In a statement, the union representing Saavedra Roman and her colleagues said the event “highlights the urgency of commonsense immigration reform and resolution for America’s children who are part of DACA.”