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Iranian Dissident To Be Deported

July 10, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) _ An immigration judge on Monday ordered the deportation of an Iranian dissident who has been detained since April on suspicion of belonging to a group designated by the State Department as a sponsor of terrorist activities.

But as part of a settlement, Mahnaz Samadi, 35, who claims to have been tortured in Iran between 1982 and 1986, will be deported to a third country, not to Iran.

She was accused in immigration documents of preparing rebel units under her command for ``coordinated attacks designed to liberate Iran.″

The settlement calls for her release from detention and the dropping of terrorism-related charges against her, said Russ Bergeron , a spokesman for the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Samadi, who came to the United States in 1994 and was granted political asylum in 1995, admitted to immigration officials that she had fraudulently attained asylum and was willing to give up that status, Bergeron said.

Samadi’s main concern was that she not be deported back to Iran. Speaking to the Washington Times last week from her jail cell in Richmond, Va., she said, ``I have no doubt that I will be tortured to death, not simply executed″ if she is returned.

She has had the backing of more than 60 House members, who sent a letter to Attorney General Janet Reno pleading for her release and accusing prison officials of mistreating her.

Rep. Ileana Ros Lehtinen, R-Fla., said two weeks ago on behalf of her House colleagues, ``The persecution of those seeking to liberate their homeland violates the principles upon which this country was founded.″

Sen. Robert Torricelli, D-N.J., welcomed the decision to drop the terrorism charges against Samadi.

``I have been convinced from the beginning she is not a terrorist and she poses no threat to our country,″ Torricelli said.

Samadi has the backing of the National Council for Resistance of Iran, which has been praised by many lawmakers as a legitimate group seeking democracy in Iran.

The State Department, however, continues to list it as an alias for the Iraq-based Mujahedeen Khalq, which it describes as a terrorist organization.

Samadi has denied committing any terrorist acts. Her Washington attorney, Michael Maggio, says she is no longer a member of the Iranian opposition and has committed no crimes in this country.

Her legal troubles began last November when she was arrested in Canada and accused of being a danger to the community because of her prior associations.

She was deported from Canada to the United States early this year and arrested by U.S. authorities in April.

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