8 Oct 2012

Stateless man stuck in American Samoa will continue to fight

6:45 am on 8 October 2012

A stateless man who has been stuck in American Samoa for ten months says he will continue to fight for justice so he can return to the United States.

Mikhail Sebastian was born in Azerbaijan and became stateless when the former Soviet Union collapsed.

He entered the US in 1995 and had lived there until travelling to American Samoa for a holiday in December but was prevented from returning on the grounds that he had self-deported himself.

Mr Sebastian says his big mistake was the decision to take a quick trip from Pago Pago to Samoa.

"I didn't know at that time that Western Samoa and American Samoa is two completely different nations so I decided to go for one day to Apia. When I arrived to Apia that's when I realised I was in a different country."

The US Department of Homeland Security recently rejected an appeal to allow him re-entry but he's still hoping it can be resolved on humanitarian grounds.

He says the US has no measures for dealing with stateless people, of which it's estimated about 4000 remain in the US.