(Image: Jalil Rezauee/EPA)

An Afghan contractor who worked on a critical Australian-backed aid development project in Afghanistan is on the run after the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade rejected his visa application. He says nine other men working on the project have been murdered by the Taliban.

"D", whose name we have withheld for safety reasons, has been forced into hiding and separated from his family as the Taliban surges through Afghanistan ahead of the Western withdrawal in September. He's faced death threats and survived attempts on his life. But this week, DFAT's assistant secretary for Afghanistan Ian Biggs rejected D's application on the grounds that he wasn't considered an employee of the relevant Australian government agencies at the time.

Facing a Senate question time grilling about D's case from independent Senator Jacqui Lambie yesterday, Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne said there were a "number of factors" that had to be taken into account: "Each case is examined and considered in terms of the individual's experience in the role they held with Australian forces and Australian staff."