Jan Arash had a lot to celebrate Thursday.
For the first time since his arrest grabbed headlines nationwide nine months ago, he’s a free man. And if that’s not enough, the former Afghan military officer also was freed from federal custody with the promise of asylum and a life far away from the Taliban.
And there is also the prospect that his family – his wife and five children are still in Afghanistan – may be able to join him in Buffalo. “He wants everyone to know how grateful he is for their support,” said Matthew Borowski, the immigration lawyer who took Arash’s case.
Released Thursday by Immigration Judge Steven J. Connelly, Arash is staying in the Buffalo area and will spend the next several weeks adjusting to life here.
Arash and two other Afghan soldiers fled their training program on Cape Cod, Mass., in September and set out for Canada. With the help of a cab, they made their way to the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls and soon found themselves in federal custody.
All three soldiers said that it was their fear of the Taliban that prompted them to abandon their training and flee to Niagara Falls with hopes of making it into Canada.
Borowski and law partner Ryan L. Witmer are also working to release Capt. Noorullah Aminyar, the other Afghan solider still being held at the immigration detention facility in Batavia. A third solider, Capt. Mohammad Nasir Askarzada, was ruled eligible for asylum in Canada and was transferred there in December.