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Monday, June 21, 2004

New Zealand Herald - Iranian overstayer probably on the move

New Zealand Herald - Latest News

Iranian overstayer probably on the move

21.06.2004 5.00 pm

Frustrated immigration officials believe one of the country's most-wanted overstayers is ducking from hiding place to hiding place to say out of their clutches.

However, they say they have been getting good leads on Iranian fugitive Saied Ghanbari, who has been on the run for 18 months since he exhausted all avenues to stay in New Zealand.

Ghanbari has been interviewed by the media but has frustrated Immigration Service attempts to find him and deport him to Iran.

Immigration Service spokeswoman Kathryn O'Sullivan said the service still did not know where he was but said there was no doubt he was being harboured.

Harbouring an illegal immigrant was not illegal but that was being reviewed by Immigration Minister Paul Swain.

Ms O'Sullivan said it was doubtful Ghanbari was staying long in the same place.

"I think probably he is changing around. I shouldn't image he is staying in the one place.

"We have received a few good leads from the public over the weekend and we have been following up on that. But we don't really know where he is," she said.

"We presume he is in Auckland but we don't really know."

Last week the Immigration Service said his days as an overstayer may be numbered.

Mr Swain said "huge resources" had been put into tracking him down.

Ghanbari embarrassed the service by being interviewed live on television from a secret location with Mr Swain in the Beehive at the same time.

Mr Swain told Ghanbari he would get "no second chances".

"Give yourself up or we will find you," Mr Swain said on the Holmes television show.

Mr Swain told the programme Ghanbari would be caught.

Ghanbari said he had been in New Zealand eight years, had a business, had done nothing wrong and had always paid his taxes.

Mr Swain said he was here illegally, was turned down for refugee status, all his appeals were declined, and he was an overstayer.

- NZPA

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