Actor Randy Quaid and wife claim asylum in Canada

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Hollywood actor Randy Quaid and his wife, wanted in the United States on vandalism charges, are seeking refugee status in Canada, saying on Friday they feared for their lives.

Randy Quaid (L) and his wife Avi arrive for the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences party honoring the 57th annual Primetime Emmy Awards nominees for Outstanding Performing Talent at Spago in Beverly Hills, California September 16, 2005. REUTERS/Jim Ruymen

The couple were arrested in Vancouver on Thursday after police responded to a call and found there were arrest warrants out for them in California. Officials incorrectly said earlier that were arrested on Wednesday.

In a rambling presentation at an immigration hearing, Evi Quaid said eight of her husband’s acting friends had been murdered in recent years and they feared he would be next.

“We feel our lives are in danger,” she told the Immigration and Refugee Board hearing.

Their attorney, Brian Tsuji, later read a note from the couple to reporters. “Yes, we are seeking asylum from Hollywood star whackers.”

Randy Quaid, 60, complained he had been persecuted for 20 years. He appeared in such films as “The Last Picture Show,” “The Last Detail,” and “Brokeback Mountain,” and is the brother of actor Dennis Quaid.

Over border officials’ objections, the couple were freed on C$10,000 cash bond until another hearing next Thursday. The Quaids, who said they needed to prepare their case and care for their puppy, hugged when the decision was announced.

The couple came to Canada on Sunday. The next day, a California judge issued an arrest warrant for them after they failed to appear at a mandatory court hearing on charges they had been illegally squatting in a home they owned years ago.

The couple said they came to Canada to relax, and were talking with an attorney in Vancouver about immigrating to Canada when they learned the warrant had been issued.

The couple denied the allegations and had to be reminded by the immigration hearing official the house dispute was not relevant to the detention hearing.

Randy Quaid was arrested in September on suspicion of burglary and entering a building without consent. Evi Quaid was booked on those charges, as well as resisting arrest.

Earlier this year, they were arrested on charges of failing to pay their bill at a California hotel. Evi Quaid was forced to pay $10,500 in restitution in that case and she pleaded no contest to defrauding an innkeeper.

Reporting Allan Dowd; Editing by Peter Cooney