Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Three Ethiopian athletes found safe

 Three of the four missing members of the Ethiopian junior championships track team have been found safe in a Portland suburb, the University of Oregon Police Department said Monday Beaverton police found Amanuel Abebe, 17, Dureti Edao, 18, and Meaza Kebede, 18, with cquaintances in that city west of Portland, UO police spokesman Kelly McIver said. As of early Monday evening, police were still looking for Zeyituna Mohammed, 18, McIver said. Beaverton police spokesman Mike Rowe on Monday night confirmed via email that the athletes were located in Beaverton and are safe, but he would not say where they were found. Rowe did not indicate whether the athletes are seeking political asylum. Earlier Monday, the university had received secondhand information that indicated the athletes were likely safe in the Portland area, UO spokeswoman Julie Brown said. Brown said it's possible that the athletes were in the Portland area ever since they were first reported missing Saturday morning after participating in the World Junior Championships at Hayward Field. Although foul play was not suspected, UO police had led a missing persons investigation with help from Eugene police, Portland police and the FBI, Brown said. The missing person case is still open for Mohammed, McIver said. Like Beaverton police spokesman Rowe, the university did not indicate whether the athletes are seeking asylum from their native country, which has seen significant political turmoil and human rights abuses in recent years. McIver said the university, including its police department, doesn't expect to provide any additional information about the three athletes' situation. The university's "only interest in (those) athletes was in verifying their safety related to the missing persons case," McIver said in an email. "They are legally in the U.S., and have left campus. We have no further need to follow up with them." Most people who come into the country for non-work reasons are issued tourist visas that typically allow them to stay in the country for six months, said Raquel Hecht, a longtime immigration law attorney in Eugene who has represented clients from multiple African countries, including Ethiopia The six-day International Association of Athletics Federations track meet, which drew athletes from at least 167 countries, concluded Sunday. It was the first time the international meet was held in the United States. Brown said Sunday she was unaware of any previous incidents in which international athletes competing at the UO have sought asylum. Edao and Mohammed ran in the 800-meter race last Tuesday and Wednesday. Mohammed qualified to compete in a final on Thursday and came in sixth place. Kebede ran the 400-meter hurdle race on Thursday and failed to advance. Abebe competed in the 100-meter and 200-meter sprints on Tuesday and Thursday, and failed to advance in both events. Source ( Blue Mountain)


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