A row has broken out over reports of an asylum request in the US by Afghanistan’s first female fighter pilot.
Niloofar Rahmani was supposed to return to Kabul over the weekend after a much-publicised stint of 15 months’ training with the US Air Force.
But the 25-year-old – nicknamed in the American media as the “Afghan Top Gun” – surprised officials in her home country amid reports that she has applied for political asylum.
Rahmani was quoted as saying her life would be in danger if she returned home, with threats made against her and her family, but the Afghan military denies there is any risk.
Officials in Kabul are urging US authorities to reject the asylum request, claiming that Rahmani has “lied” to try to win residency.
The pilot has been celebrated in the US as an example of how women’s rights can be advanced in countries like Afghanistan and in 2015 she was awarded with the State Department’s Women of Courage award.