Nine men have been released from immigration detention at a Melbourne hotel, according to refugees and lawyers.
Muhammad Jamal, who has been detained for nine years, said he and eight other people were released from the Park Hotel on Friday.
“Today me and 8 other people are released from the park hotel with the help of the community, but some of our friends are still locked inside,” he tweeted.
Refugee advocates said the men had not been given a reason for their release on Friday evening and that eight of them had been issued with transitional visas and one community detention visa.
The Refugee Action Collective said most of the men were given six-month bridging visas with no access to welfare and little support.
“They were released into a cheap motel, over a long weekend, with almost no support,” said RAC’s Chris Breen.
The AAP understands that the bridging visa allows refugees to legally reside in the community while making arrangements to leave the country and does not provide a pathway to settlement in Australia.
There are 18 men still being held at the Park Hotel.
The Australian Border Force declined to confirm whether any refugees had been released.
“The department does not comment on individual cases,” the ABF said.
“Individuals released from immigration detention receive transitional support through the Status Resolution Support Services program, including support from social workers, housing and financial assistance.
“Australian Government policy has not changed and illegal sea arrivals will not be dealt with in Australia.”
It comes after another Park Hotel inmate, Iranian refugee Mehdi Ali, was resettled in the United States earlier this month after nine years in detention.
The Park Hotel came to national attention in January when tennis champion Novak Djokovic was briefly detained there.
Djokovic was eventually deported on the eve of the Australian Open after the Federal Court upheld the Immigration Minister’s decision to revoke his visa.