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Iranian Family Applying for Asylum

January 19, 2003

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) _ An Iranian family twice denied asylum by the U.S. government is applying to move to Canada rather than risk deportation to Iran.

Musician Mo Jamal and artist Shahla Etemadzadeh, who have won the support of many in Austin’s arts community since arriving in 1996, fear their criticism of the Iranian government years ago would lead to their imprisonment if they returned there.

The couple and their four sons filed an appeal Jan. 13 to delay for 30 days a recent deportation order. They also appealed to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider the government’s second denial of their asylum.

But Etemadzadeh and her husband aren’t optimistic about winning a third appeal and plan to leave the country by the end of the month.

``We are packing,″ Etemadzadeh said Saturday. ``Selling our house and assets and moving. Canada has not offered us asylum, but we’ll apply.″

Their lawyer said the government gave no reason for its denial.

Immigration authorities have declined to comment.

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