A BID to secure the release of an Olympian held in Scotland's only immigration detention centre has been launched online.

The Sunday National revealed how Zacharie Cyriaque Ayard-Nzapajima fled the Central African Republic (CAR) after a disorderly protest linked to a labour dispute.

The athlete was also a CAR Paralympic coach and relatives have told him not to return.

His asylum claim included evidence that family members had been murdered and raped in his absence.

READ MORE: The Olympian surviving in the UK's detention system

The 46-year-old is fighting to secure refugee status after his immediate removal was cancelled, but is currently within Dungavel Immigration Removal Centre in South Lanarkshire.

While he has been assessed as an adult at-risk as a result of his poor mental health – he told the Sunday National that inside he is "already dead" after seven years of hardship – he has not been released on bail.

Now supporters have launched an online petition urging the Home Office to free him.

The petition, set up by Glasgow-based culture and sports organisation African Challenge Scotland, was placed on the change.org website late on Monday.

Some signatories claim personal relationships with Zacharie, calling him a "friend", a "brother" and "a lovely guy".

Others focused on human rights, with one stating: "For all the talk on human rights abuse elsewhere, this tops the chart and to imagine it's happening in the UK is beyond belief.

"This man deserves to be treated with the dignity becoming of any human."

More than 130 people had added their names at the time of writing.

Zacharie's lawyer Usman Aslam, of McGlashan MacKay solicitors, is working with advocate Kenneth Forrest in a bid to take the case to the Court of Session. Welcoming the petition, he said: "Zacharie attends his reporting when asked to, there is no prospect of removing him from the UK, he is of good character, he has been examined at an “adult at -risk”, yet the Secretary of State uses public funds to lock him up. Does anyone else see the problem?"

To sign the petition, click here: bit.ly/ZacharieCAN.