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Trapped: Kamalfar Family Still Held in Moscow Airport After 130 Days

zahracries.jpg by Roger L. Simon for Pajamas Media Last November 18, Pajamas Media presented exclusive video smuggled out of Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport of Iranian dissident Zahra Kamalfar and her two children who had then been trapped in the airport's transit area - forced to drink and bathe from the toilets - for over 73 days. (See video here, other coverage here and here.) Kamalfar had escaped Iran with her family during a prison furlough and was fighting extradition back to the Islamic Republic while seeking political asylum in other countries. Incredible as it may seem - despite efforts by the United Nations Refugee Committee, the European Human Rights Court and lawyers and activists worldwide - Kamalfar and her family are still trapped in the same airport transit area over two months later.

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January 22, 2007 - 12:00 pm

Russian authorities have not given them the normal housing usually offered those awaiting asylum judgments and, according to PJ Media sources, are making life even more uncomfortable than it was for the political refugees, who have been finding it more difficult than before to obtain simple survival tools like blankets.

Hengameh Afshar – talk show hostess for satellite station Tasvir Iran – who has spoken directly with Kamalfar – told PJ Media Russian authorities have evidently directed airport personnel to ignore the family and not even to speak with them.

What accounts for this behavior? Sources speculate both the Russians and the Iranians have reason to fear Kamalfar. She may have a lot to talk about when and if she finally gets asylum – including extreme mistreatment by the Russian airport personnel before this case came into public view and even more brutal and abusive treatment by the Iranians while she was in prison. Kamalfar’s husband disappeared in Iran under mysterious circumstances.

As for her asylum search, attorneys first made application with Canada, where Kamalfar’s brother lives. For reasons that are unclear, Canada initially rejected the application but is now reconsidering it. Zohreh Mizrahi, a Los Angeles immigration lawyer working on the case, told PJ Media that in the event Canada does not finally accept the Kamalfar family, application will be made to the United States.

The Canadian Broadcasting Company has interviewed Kamalfar inside the airport and their interview will apparently be aired on Monday evening.

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