Afghan Interpreters Who Helped US Troops Denied Visas

Gov't says they're not facing 'serious threat'

By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 11, 2013 7:08 PM CST

(Newser) – An increasing number of Afghan interpreters who worked with US troops for years during the war are being denied US visas, because the government doesn't think their lives are in serious danger. Think again, the interpreters tell the Washington Post. "There are tons of [Taliban members] in my village, and they all know that I worked with the Americans," says one, who received a letter from the US government saying he had failed to prove there was a "serious threat" against his life. "If I can’t go to the States, my life is over," he says. "I swear to God, one day the Taliban will catch me."

Another interpreter, who worked at a US military prison screening visitors, even had US officers writing letters on his behalf, explaining that his job was particularly dangerous, because he often came face-to-face with the families of detained militants. But the State Department didn't agree. A third survived three IED attacks and was called "a spy and a traitor" while accompanying a US unit for five years, and says his family has received threatening phone calls. But still, that's not a "serious threat," says the government. "What’s a serious ongoing threat for them? Do they need someone to bring in my decapitated head?" asks one interpreter. "The Taliban posted a letter on our house saying next time I come inside my house, they will kill my whole family. That’s still not good enough?"

US Army medical staff wheel an Afghan interpreter injured while working with U.S. Marines off a medevac helicopter.
US Army medical staff wheel an Afghan interpreter injured while working with U.S. Marines off a medevac helicopter.   (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)
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