Three Iraqi diplomats seek asylum in Australia

Three Iraqi diplomats and their families are seeking asylum in Australia after their government ordered them back to their embattled country, the government said Thursday. The three lost their diplomatic accreditation after Iraq closed the office of the military attache within the Iraqi embassy in the national capital Canberra on Dec. 15, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, or DFAT, said in a statement. They are former chief defense attache Brig. Gen. Sabah Al-Kareen Zebon Fureje and his staffers Kamal J. Askander and Ala' Al-Amiri, The Australian national newspaper reported. DFAT declined to confirm their names, citing privacy laws. "We understand that these officials and their dependents have applied through normal channels for visas to remain in Australia," the statement said. "Their applications will be processed by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship on their individual merits and in accordance with Australian law," it added. DFAT can consider rare applications for political asylum.