LONDON – A Sudanese man who was arrested after walking through the 31-mile (50-km) Channel Tunnel from France to England has been granted asylum in Britain, lawyers said Monday.
Abdul Rahman Haroun, 40, was detained in August near the British end of the tunnel at Folkestone in southeastern England. Police said Haroun had slipped past officers at the tunnel entrance and dodged hundreds of surveillance cameras before being spotted by British security guards.
He was charged with obstructing a railway engine or carriage under a 19th-century law, the Malicious Damage Act.
Haroun’s caseworker, Sadie Castle of law firm Kent Defence, said the British government granted him asylum on Dec. 24. At a court hearing Monday, a lawyer said prosecutors were considering whether to drop the charge in light of the decision.
Haroun, who has been detained since his arrest, was released on bail until a Jan. 18 hearing at Canterbury Crown Court.
Thousands of migrants have tried to reach Britain on trucks and freight trains through the undersea tunnel in the past year, and several have been killed in the attempt.
Operator Eurotunnel said Haroun’s walk was extremely dangerous, since trains travel through the tunnel at up to 100 mph (160 kph). The company said it was disappointed that the prosecution might be dropped.
“We believe that it is something that can only act as an incentive to other illegal immigrants to seek to enter the country,” said spokesman John Keefe.
“We had hoped the authorities would use the full force of the law as a dissuasive measure.”