Gay Iranian teenager who feared execution wins deportation battle to stay in Britain

Liberal Democrat Simon Hughes

Liberal Democrat Simon Hughes led the campaign to keep gay teenager Mehdi Kazemi in Britain

A gay Iranian teenager has won his battle against deportation after he was granted leave to remain in Britain amid fears he would face execution if removed to his homeland.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith agreed in March to reconsider the case of Mehdi Kazemi, who came to London to study English in 2005.

The 19-year-old later discovered that his boyfriend had been arrested by the Iranian police, and was charged with sodomy and hanged.

Today, the UK Border Agency announced that it had decided to allow him asylum.

"The UK Border Agency considers each case on its individual merits and will continue to provide refuge for those asylum seekers with a genuine need for protection," a spokesman said.

"We keep cases under review where circumstances have changed and it has been decided that Mr Kezemi should be granted leave to remain in the UK based on the particular facts of this case."

Liberal Democrat MP Simon Hughes, who led the campaign to grant asylum, said: "Like Mehdi and his family in Britain, I am delighted to hear of the Home Office decision to let him stay in this country. This is great news for a very decent man.

"As I have argued over the last 18 months, the Home Office should not send gay and lesbian people back to countries where they will be at risk of persecution, torture or death."

According to Iranian human rights campaigners, more than 4,000 gay men and lesbians have been executed since the Ayatollahs seized power in 1979.

Mr Kazemi fled to the Netherlands after the Home Office rejected his case late last year, but a Dutch court ruled he could not claim asylum in the Netherlands.

He was sent back to the UK and Ms Smith said his case would be reviewed.

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