29 May 2004

Australia frees asylum seeker from PNG detention

8:22 am on 29 May 2004

The lone asylum seeker on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island has been granted an Australian visa and is due to leave the island next week.

A spokesman for the Australian Immigration Minister, Amanda Vanstone, confirmed Aladdin Sisalem had been granted a visa and was expected in Australia within a week.

A Palestinian asylum seeker, Aladdin Sisalem, has been on the island since January 2003 and has been the only detainee for the past year.

Mr Sisalem, who's 25, was seized by Australian police on Saibai Island in the Torres Strait in 2002.

Australian taxpayers have been providing US$178,000 a month to keep open a detention centre there under an agreement with the PNG government that expires in October.

The detention scheme was part of Australian policy to transfer detention of some non-Western asylum seekers to Pacific Island states.