Man seeking climate change refugee status arrested in New Zealand

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Wellington (dpa) – A Kiribati man who failed in a bid to be recognized as the world’s first climate change refugee has been arrested in New Zealand and faces possible deportation next week, his lawyer said Thursday.

Ioane Teitiota was arrested by police on Tuesday and remains in custody in Auckland, his lawyer Michael Kidd said.

Teitiota, his wife Angua Erika and their three New Zealand-born children were seeking refugee status, claiming that rising sea levels made their homeland inhospitable.

They lost their final bid in July, when the Supreme Court ruled that Teitiota would not face serious harm if he returned to Kiribati despite the challenges it faces from climate change.

Teitiota and his wife moved to New Zealand in 2007 and have remained there since their visas expired in October 2010.

Kidd planned to ask the Waitakere District Court in Auckland on Monday to release Teitiota from custody pending the outcome of his appeal to the United Nations Human Rights Committee.

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