A Syrian man who found himself stuck in an airport for months after overstaying his Malaysian visa and subsequently refusing to return to his war-torn home country has been arrested. Per CBC, Hassan Al Kontar spent the last seven months living in the Kuala Lumpur airport and documenting on Twitter his life in flux as he attempted to find a country willing to issue him a visa as a refugee. On Monday, Malaysian authorities accused the 36-year-old of being in a "forbidden zone" without a boarding pass and arrested him, per the New Straits Times.
At a press conference, Malaysia's Immigration Department director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali reportedly said that Al Kontar said he's unwilling to return to Syria because he fears he'll be forced to become a soldier after years spent working abroad as an insurance marketing manager. Mustafar said his agency doesn't know Al Kontar's "real reason" but cited his country's need for closure in the case. Mustafar also said Al Kontar had "shamed" Malaysia on social media. Throughout his ordeal, a human rights group out of British Columbia had been working to secure a Canadian visa for Al Kontar by putting public pressure on Canada's minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship. Malaysian officials did not say at the time of his arrest whether Al Kontar would be deported. (Read more Syria stories.)