Playwright Lydia Besong freed from detention centre

Lydia Besong Lydia Besong says she would be persecuted back in Cameroon

A Cameroonian playwright and her husband who are under threat of deportation from the UK have been released from a detention centre.

Lydia Besong and her husband Bernard, who live in Bury, Greater Manchester, were granted a judicial review last Friday hours before deportation.

They say they will be tortured and beaten in Cameroon.

High-profile supporters include actor Juliet Stevenson, author Nick Hornby and playwright Alan Ayckbourn.

The couple, who were released from Yarl's Wood Detention Centre in Bedfordshire on Wednesday, had been due to be put on a flight to Cameroon last Saturday.

Following the last-minute reprieve from deportation, the Home Office had refused to release the pair from detention.

'Very political'

Their solicitor Gary McIndoe said: "We hope the substance of the risks faced by Bernard and Lydia in Cameroon can now be looked at with greater care and clarity."

"We face persecution back home," said Ms Besong.

"You are not allowed to criticise the government, my writing is very political and you are always under threat of persecution and detention."

The couple came to the UK in 2006.

They belong to the Southern Cameroon National Council (SCNC), an organisation campaigning for the rights of the country's minority English-speaking population in the largely French-speaking African state.

The group is illegal because it advocates secession for two English-speaking provinces.

Mrs Besong who was an English lecturer in Cameroon, has written plays in the UK including How I Became An Asylum Seeker and Down With The Dictator.

The UK Border Agency said: "The UK has a proud record of offering sanctuary to those who need it, but where we and the courts have found they do not qualify for protection they must return to their home country.

"Detention is a last resort where individuals refuse to return voluntarily.

"Where individuals seek to frustrate their removal through the courts it can delay the returns process, however we will continue to pursue removal in these cases."

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