David Cameron's Afghan translator threatened by the Taliban but prevented from moving to UK

Mr Cameron on a visit to Afghanistan in 2011
Mr Cameron on a visit to Afghanistan in 2011  Photo: Getty
Harriet Alexander
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Calls for an Afghan translator who helped David Cameron to be given asylum in Britain were growing last night, after the 26-year-old told of the threats he had received from the Taliban.

Shaffy, as he was known to the British forces, said that he felt “abandoned” by Britain, after repeated attempts to move to Britain were denied.

“The area where I have lived with my family now has a Taliban governor,” he told The Daily Mail. “I cannot resume my life there, people point to me and call me a spy.

“I tried to move to the north and was recognised, I moved to Kabul and the same thing happened. I went to my uncle’s home last month and when we woke there was a letter on Taliban headed paper from a commander named Mullah Assif.”

Johnny Mercer, the Conservative MP for Plymouth who served three tours of Afghanistan, running a commando unit before going on to become a joint firearms controller, said he had sympathy for the case.

Mr Mercer, one of a group of newly-elected MPs to have served in the army, said he had relied heavily on translators while scouting in Taliban territory to identify and destroy enemy targets.

“They were some of the bravest people I know,” he told The Sunday Telegraph. “I don’t know the particulars of Shaffy’s case, but I do in general think we need to do more to support translators.

“They have invested a huge amount in building their country and helping Britain.”

He cautioned that the answer was not necessarily bringing them all to the UK.

“They are often the brightest and the best, and Afghanistan really needs them,” he said. “But certainly we should do more.”

General Sir David Richards, chief of defence staff until 2013, said:

"Shaffy served our country superbly. Of course he should be allowed to come to the UK. No ifs, no buts - we owe him.

"I am ashamed that there is even a debate about it."

Shaffy, one of the British army’s top Afghan interpreters, said he was targeted by the Taliban after working for Mr Cameron in 2011. Photographs online of him and the British prime minister have been used as evidence he was a spy, he said, while his alerting of British troops to an impending attack has made him a source of hatred for the Taliban.

“The Taliban told me I stood with Mr Cameron, helping the British, as they killed their mujahideen – and that I would die because of it,” he said.

“I told them that it was a mistake and not me but they said I was a liar, that my pictures and video was on Google and they were looking as we spoke at me beside Mr Cameron.

Shaffy, who worked for the army until January 2013, said he was told by UK forces that they would look after him.

But the father-of-three says the British have left and after six years with the military – three on the front lines, when he was twice blown up in armoured vehicles, and three working for senior officers – the threats have grown and the Taliban have almost seized him twice.

“I have changed my telephone many times and have frequently moved house but every time their messengers find where I am and taunt me that I will die for helping the British.

“The British authorities know all about my case. I have asked to be allowed to come to the UK because my life and that of my wife and three young daughters is in danger, as a direct consequence of working loyally for them. But they just say ‘sorry, no’ and give no reason.”

Australia and the US is also facing similar demands from Afghan translators, who feel they have been abandoned by the West.

Shaffy said he had letters from army officers highlighting his “outstanding courage” in the face of threats. Another letter said that, out of 100 translators, Shaffy was “the outstanding interpreter” who was “thoroughly battle hardened and loyal to British forces.”

Yet despite the accolades, he was still turned down by a scheme that allowed interpreters who worked for a year after December 2011 to move to Britain.

“Mr Cameron and the UK government have forgotten us,” he said. “They have nothing in their hearts.”

A government spokesman said: “Whilst we cannot comment on this individual case, we recognise the contribution of all local civilian staff, including interpreters, who worked for the UK. They played a very important part in our efforts towards a more secure, stable and prosperous Afghanistan.

“The UK Government believes that its policy towards locally engaged staff in Afghanistan is legal, honourable and fair, and we are committed to delivering generous support that properly reflects their work and the risks involved, especially to patrol interpreters and translators who worked alongside us in the most challenging and dangerous roles.”

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Source : telegraph[dot]co[dot]uk
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