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Virginia man home again as deportation fight continues

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) – A northern Virginia man whose deportation to Israel was reversed last week is home again.

Immigration attorney Patrick Taurel says Abdelhaleem Ashqar was home in Alexandria on Friday following his release from a detention center in Bowling Green, Virginia.

The 60-year-old recently served 11 years in prison for refusing to testify to a grand jury investigating the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

Last week, a judge’s order forced immigration authorities to return him from Israel before he got off the plane. Ashqar fears he would be tortured in Israel.

Taurel said he’s trying to get government attorneys to allow Ashqar to relocate to a country where he feels safe.

In 2005, Ashqar ran to succeed Yasser Arafat as president of the Palestinian National Authority. He finished fourth out of seven.

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