Christian asylum seeker facing deportation is released from detention centre

Azeem Wazir fled to the UK after a fatwah was issued following his campaigning against Pakistan's blasphemy laws

A Pakistani Christian who was detained by immigration officials and told he was facing imminent deportation from the UK has been unexpectedly released. 

An update to a petition started on calling for him to remain in the UK said Azeem Wazir was told on Wednesday afternoon that he could leave the detention centre without bail. 

He had been detained without warning at Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre outside London and informed earlier this month that he was to be deported. 

News of his deportation broke on the same day as it emerged that Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi had left Pakistan for Canada after being freed from death row for blasphemy. 

While in Pakistan, Mr Wazir had publicly supported Mrs Bibi and criticised the country's strict blasphemy laws.  He had also been part of a campaign called 'Stop Killing Christians', before fleeing to the UK in 2015 after a fatwah was issued against him. 

After a public outcry, his deporation was delayed.  

The update to said it was unclear why Mr Wazir had been released and that he was awaiting further information from the Home Office. 

"He is waiting for a Home Office letter explaining why this has been allowed and an update on his status but it is very good news," the update reads.

"Azeem was chuckling with joy on the phone and couldn't quite believe it. Thank you for all your support in helping make this part of the journey possible." 

It added that "a car is on its way from Bristol to collect him and we are preparing a very large curry".

The petition calling on Home Secretary Sajid Javid to stop the deportation has been signed over 16,000 times.  

It says that Mr Wazir faces incarceration and a blasphemy charge against him, a crime punishable by death in Pakistan, and that he fears being murdered.

Colse Leung, a friend, said Wazir was "very excited" to be released from the detention centre.