cyclist wins asylum but remains in jail

In fact he has always been truly free, but the great and tender soul of Reza K. Baluchi was officially granted political asylum yesterday by U.S. immigration judge LaMonte Freerks. Today his body remains in jail, because the INS itself hasn't yet decided whether they will appeal. They have 30 days to decide whether they will try again to throw him to the tender mercies of the Iranian government which had tortured him and from which he fled 6 years ago. Iran, of course, is part of the administration's own invention, the "axis of evil," regardless of the merits of that designation.

During his asylum hearing, which began Monday, Mr. Baluchi was nervous, said his lawyer, Suzannah Maclay of the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project.

"He was clearly very anxious," Ms. Maclay said. "He had expected to get a final decision, and instead he's taken back to detention."

But Baluchi is definitely not down yet.
"Today I'm happy," Mr. Baluchi said with his customary optimism after the hearing. Once he gets out, he said, he plans to ride to Los Angeles. From there, he will run across the country, eight hours a day, to New York City — and ground zero. Shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Baluchi wrote that he would conclude his voyage at the site of the World Trade Center, "so that my message of peace and love can reach the whole American people."

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Published on February 28, 2003 12:32 PM.

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