1. ITV Report

Syrian man stranded at Kuala Lumpur airport for seven months granted asylum in Canada

Hassan al Kontar documented his stay at KL International airport on Twitter and YouTube. Credit:

A Syrian man who spent seven months living in Kuala Lumpur Intentional airport has been granted asylum and permanent residency in Canada.

Hassan al Kontar, 37, arrived in Vancouver on Monday, NBC News reported, after an ordeal that left him stranded in the transit lounge of the Malaysian airport after the Syria authorities refused to renew his passport.

Hassan documented his plight, similar to that of Tom Hanks in the 2004 film The Terminal, on Twitter and YouTube and gained the attention thousands around the world.

Among his new followers was Canada Caring Society volunteer Laurie Cooper, who helped him apply for asylum in April.

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In a tweet on Monday, Hassan announced he was waiting in Taiwan for his flight to his "final destination" in Vancouver.

"The last 10 months, it was very hard," he said in a video posted on Twitter.

"I could not do it without the support and prayers from all of you. I could not do it without the help of my family, my Canadian friend's family, and my lawyer. Thank you all. I love you all. I will keep you updated."

The British Columbia Muslim Association and the Canada Caring Society sponsored Hassan to come to Canada as a refugee.

Hassan was working as an insurance marketing manager in the UAE until 2017. Credit:

"We are proud that Canada was willing to step up and help Hassan when so many countries around the world are closing their doors to refugees," Canada Caring Society volunteer Laurie Cooper said in a statement.

Before being allowed to enter Canada, Hassan risked being deported back Syria, where he has not been since 2008.

Hassan was working as an insurance marketing manager in the UAE when the Syrian war broke out in 2011.

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When his passport expired while living there, the Syrian embassy refused to renew it because he had not completed his military service.

Without his official documents, Hassan was suddenly stateless, and as a result, jobless and homeless.

Hassan's passport was temporarily renewed in 2017, but he was deported later that year by UAE authorities to Malaysia, which accepts Syrian citizens without a visa for up to 90 days.

After his visitor visa expired in March, Hassan decided to travel to Ecuador to request asylum. But he was not allowed to board the plane and, as he had overstayed his visa, he could not re-enter Malaysia, leaving him in a state of limbo where he would stay for over seven months.

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Despite his situation, Hassan - an England football fan - retained enough optimism to believe that the team would win the 2018 World Cup, expressing his support on Twitter with a screengrab on despondent Brazilian fans saying "I feel sorry for you guys "little bit" but we are going to win this damn "thing" this time" followed by Union and England flags.

Whether now he is a Canadian resident he will turn his attention to the national ice hockey team remains to be seen.