Asylum Seeker Will Get Another Shot in the 9th
(CN) - The 9th Circuit agreed Monday to revisit the asylum request of a man who says he was forced to work for a terrorist group and tortured by the Sri Lankan army.
Last year, the federal appeals court denied review of Satheeskumar Annachamy's unsuccessful petition for asylum and withholding of removal. The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) had previously denied the native Sri Lankan's request after finding that he was ineligible for asylum because he had provided "material support" for a terrorist organization, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
But Annachamy tells a different story. He says he was forced to support the group, which was at war for years against the Sri Lankan government. He claims that he was arrested several times by the Sri Lankan army on suspicion of being a militant, and that "the army detained him for many weeks, interrogated him and tortured him, including beating him with weapons while he was hung upside down, inserting a stick in his rectum, placing a bag soaked in gasoline over his head and forcibly submerging his head into water," according to the ruling Monday.
Annachamy says that LTTE also had demanded money and assistance from him several times over the years, and once took him blindfolded to a camp where he was forced to cook, dig trenches and build fences. He says he would have been killed if he had refused to work for the group. The Sri Lankan army allegedly detained him again in 2004, after which he escaped to the United States.
Faced with deportation by the Department of Homeland Security shortly after his arrival in 2005, Annachamy filed an application for asylum, withholding of removal and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). The BIA's decision had reversed the decision of an immigration judge based on the LTTE's status as a terrorist group.
Annachamy had argued that he only helped the group under duress, and that the LTTT was anyway engaged in "legitimate political violence" rather than terrorism.
In rejecting those arguments, the BIA and the original 9th Circuit to hear the case found no "implied exception" for duress or political violence in the material-support rules. The BIA did, however, grant Annachamy deferral of removal under CAT.
The Monday filing granting Annachamy a panel rehearing notes that both the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties and the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic filed amici briefs urging the court to reconsider the case.