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President Weighs In on 'Duty' to Help Afghan Civilians Who Aided Estonian Units

Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

President Toomas Hendrik Ilves said after last night's airing on ETV of an interview with an Afghan interpreter seeking a new life that Estonia had an obligation to assist locals who helped Estonian infantry units.

"Estonia has a moral obligation to help those who have helped our units in Afghanistan," Ilves said through his spokesman Toomas Sildam.

Sildam stressed that the Defense Ministry and Foreign Ministry are still dealing with the case.

In the phone interview aired on Wednesday, "Omar," the interpreter, re-stated his case. (Omar makes his comments at 0:38 and 2:36 of the embedded video.)
"If I stay here in Afghanistan, I will lose my life. Everybody knows I worked for Estonian troops for a long time. Everybody knows, and this is the problem."    

ETV also talked to senior researcher for the International Center for Defense Studies Erik Männik, who said insurgents had made such personnel and their families "priority targets."

In past weeks, Omar, who worked for the coalition forces from 2010-2012, has mounted a public effort, contacting many military and civilian leaders and media.

The interpreter's story was first reported in Estonia in a Reporter's Notebook piece.

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