25 Jun 2012

'Stateless' man stuck in American Samoa fights to have case heard

3:21 pm on 25 June 2012

A man who has been stuck in American Samoa since January is pleading with United States authorities to let him return to the country he considers home.

Mikhail Sebastian was born in Azerbaijan and became stateless when the former Soviet Union collapsed.

The 39-year-old entered the US in 1995 on a business visa and had lived and worked there until travelling to American Samoa for a two-week holiday.

He was prevented from boarding a plane to return to the US mainland on the grounds that he had effectively self-deported himself but Mr Sevumyan says he was advised beforehand that American Samoa was okay because it is a US territory.

Mr Sebastian says he's grateful for the way locals have looked after him while he remains in limbo.

"They provided me shelter and food at the house of one person I'm staying with, Samoan family. The United States was my home for 16 years, it's the only place I know and hopefully my case will be resolved so I will return back to my normal life, my job, my friends, and the only country I consider as a home."

Mikhail Sebastian is applying for humanitarian parole to return to the US.