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Iran: More Social Figures Barred from Exiting Country

10/05/09 By Vahid Sabetian, Rooz online

Airport security forces barred a prominent member of the Center for Defenders of Human Rights and three well-known journalists from exiting the country.

In the latest instance of journalists being barred from exiting Iran, Badrossadat Mofidi, secretary of the Association of Iranian Journalists, Zahra Ebrahimi, experienced parliamentary reporter for Hamshahri daily, and Farzaneh Roostaei, editor of Etemad daily's international section and one of the country's five recognized journalists in 2008, all were barred form exiting the country and their passports were confiscated.

Airport security forces told all three journalists, who were boarding different flights, that the Revolutionary Court had issued an order barring their exit, and that they must follow the matter through the Revolutionary Court.

In most such cases, journalists are barred from traveling abroad to attend international conferences or ceremonies in which they are to receive a prize or recognition, although trips to visit relatives have also been banned in the past. Hashem Aghajari, Isa Saharkhiz and Taghi Rahmani are three other journalists and activists who were previously banned from traveling abroad at the airport and whose passports have been confiscated.

Meanwhile, human rights attorney Abdolfattah Soltani, who was at the airport on Friday to travel to Germany, was barred by airport security forces from boarding his plane. He was scheduled to attend an international human rights conference in the city of Nuremberg. German authorities reacted to the ban, which was accompanied by Soltani's passport confiscation.

In recent years, Emadeddin Baghi, Ahmad Ghabel and Fatemeh Govaraei have faced similar restrictions at the airport and not been able to travel abroad.

In a strange instance of confronting activists in airport, two years ago security forces arrested human rights activists and journalists Mansoureh Shojaei, Seddigheh Talatnia and Farnaz Seifi as they were boarding a flight to India to attend a journalism workshop. Security forces then searched the houses of the detained individuals and transferred them to the Evin Prison's infamous Ward 209 after confiscating their personal belongings, including computers, books and notes.

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