An Afghan couple who arrived in the United States as refugees have accused a U.S. Marine of abducting their baby.
Joshua Mast, 39, and his wife Stephanie, 38 are being sued in a federal court in Virginia by the baby’s older cousin and his wife. The couple were rescued in Kabul and taken to Washington by Mast, during the withdrawal of US troops last year.
The baby had been rescued two years prior from the rubble of a U.S. Special Forces raid that killed her parents along with five of her siblings. The baby then spent months in a U.S. military hospital, before going to live with her cousin and his wife, who were a newlywed couple.
The family was then assisted in moving to the United States by Marine Corps attorney Joshua Mast.
The lawsuit says that when the couple arrived in Washington along with their baby, Mast pulled them out of the arrivals queue and escorted them to an immigration officer. The lawsuit went on to say that Mast presented the girl with an Afghan passport, which contained the surname of Mast.
According to the lawsuit, the couple was unaware that the baby had already been adopted by Mast and his wife Stephanie in a Virginia court.
The couple said Mast presented custody papers to the couple and then took the baby from them. They said that they haven’t seen the baby since.
“After they took her, our tears never stop,” the Afghan woman, who has requested anonymity, informed The Associated Press. “Right now, we are just dead bodies. Our hearts are broken. We have no plans for a future without her. Food has no taste, and sleep gives us no rest.”
Mast has said he and his wife are the legal parents of the young girl, who is now three years old. The Masts maintain that they “acted admirably” to save her and have hit out at “outrageous, unmerited attacks” on their integrity, and have argued in the court filings that they have worked “to protect the child from physical, mental or emotional harm.”
The Masts also released a statement through their attorneys, saying: “Joshua and Stephanie Mast have done nothing but ensure she receives the medical care she requires, at great personal expense and sacrifice, and provide her a loving home.”
The Masts have asked a federal judge to dismiss the lawsuit.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: CHATHAMHOUSE.ORG
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