Stowaway on flight from Havana to Miami granted temporary asylum

The 26-year-old man who hid inside the baggage cargo area of a Swift Air charter flight from Cuba has been granted temporary asylum, his attorney Wilfredo Allen confirmed Tuesday night.

Yunier García Duarte, who worked in the cargo area at José Martí Airport in Havana, arrived at Miami International Airport on Aug. 16. He was immediately taken into custody by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Allen said he believes it was Duarte’s “riveting testimony” during his trial on Sept. 11 that led to the granting of his temporary asylum on Tuesday.

Duarte was released from the Krome detention center Wednesday morning, Allen said.

“This is not a surprise. I believe this young man testified his heart away. He told the judge his story and why he did what he did,” Allen said, adding that asylum testimonies are private and closed to the media. “It was honest, sincere, moving and real. He told the judge how he took a chance and what he thinks what would happen to him if he went back to Cuba. That’s what did it.”

According to Allen, Duarte completed technical school in Cuba and has a young child.

“So, when he was finished with work, he saw an opportunity to make it to Miami and he took it,” Allen said.

Allen says the Department of Homeland Security has appealed the judge’s decision and that more proceedings await.