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Omar's Asylum Bid 'Turned Down by UK'

The Afghan interpreter who was turned down for asylum in Estonia has said he has now also received a cold shoulder from the UK's new rehabilitation program.

The interpreter did not qualify, he said in social media, because he was not on the British payroll last December, when it was announced that troops would be withdrawn, ETV reported. Last week, the British government launched an aid program for hundreds of Afghans who have worked on British payroll, which includes those working for Estonia.

Known to the media as "Omar," a pseudonym he picked up when his story was broken by ERR News this March, he had worked for Estonia's infantry units for three years, for Estcoy-12, Estcoy-13 and Estcoy-14. Although there have been dozens of other interpreters who worked for Estonian forces, Omar's is the only case that has been brought to public attention.

Estonian authorities turned down Omar's asylum request on the heels of a visit to Estonia by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who said then that partners of the coalition forces had no more to fear than other residents of Afghanistan. The Estonian foreign and defense ministers have maintained that the decision wasn't a political one, while others, such Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, have stressed that Estonia has a moral responsibility to help its partners.

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