Nephew of Saddam Hussein claims asylum in Austria

VIENNA Fri Jun 22, 2012 6:38am EDT

Deceased Iraqi President Saddam Hussein reacts in court during the Anfal genocide trial in Baghdad in this December 21, 2006 file photo. REUTERS/Nikola Solic

Deceased Iraqi President Saddam Hussein reacts in court during the Anfal genocide trial in Baghdad in this December 21, 2006 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Nikola Solic

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VIENNA (Reuters) - A nephew of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein who is wanted by Iraq for membership of a terrorist organization has claimed asylum in Austria saying he feared persecution, Austria's interior ministry said on Friday.

A spokesman for the ministry said the 42-year-old man, whom they named only as Bashar N., had been detained without identity documents on Thursday in the Austrian town of Traiskirchen, a well-known center for asylum-seekers since the Cold War, along with two other people.

Bashar N. has been on an Iraqi wanted list since 2006, the spokesman said, but added that he was not under arrest. His identity was established by fingerprints.

"Asylum proceedings are now under way in Austria," the spokesman said. "Regardless of his origin, everyone has a right to a legal process."

Bashar N. said he had arrived by plane from Turkey using a false passport, which had then been taken away by the people smuggler who had helped him, according to the spokesman.

He is being held at a secret location for his own safety.

(Reporting by Angelika Gruber; Writing by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Alistair Lyon)

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