One of the two asylum seekers was contacted by refugee charity Civil Assistance as they boarded the plane at St. Petersburg’s Pulkovo airport, the Deutsche Welle news outlet reported Thursday.
A translator for the group told the cabin crew via telephone that the men wanted to leave the plane and would be in danger in their native country.
“Our translator told the stewardess there was real danger waiting for these men in Yemen,” Civic Assistance employee Yelena Burtin told Deutsche Welle. “She reported it to the pilot. Since there are rules against transporting people onboard against their will, the Yemenis were allowed to leave the plane and return to the airport,” she said.
The refugee in question had filed an asylum application on Jan. 12. The man’s request was denied on Jan. 16, but his lawyer claims that he was not informed of the decision. He now has the right to appeal the refusal.