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INS Mulls Iranian Dissident’s Fate

July 11, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) _ An Iranian dissident spared deportation to her homeland by a U.S. immigration court still could be ordered to a third country, the Immigration and Naturalization Service said Tuesday.

Mahnaz Samadi, 35, had been in INS custody for three months after she was found to have been a member of a group designated by the State Department as a sponsor of terrorism.

At a deportation Monday hearing in Arlington, Va., the court ruled out sending her back to Iran because she could face persecution there, INS officials said.

The court ruled that Samadi had engaged in fraud when, applying for political asylum in 1995, she told immigration authorities that she was not a member of the National Liberation Army, the military wing of the Iranian resistance, the officials said.

INS spokeswoman Maria Cardona said that no order for deportation to a third country had been handed down and that the question of deportation to a country other than her homeland rests with the immigration service.

``At this point in time, there are no specific plans to do so,″ Cardona said, adding that Samadi has been ordered released from her detention. The court ruled that that Samadi is free to seek employment and faces no restrictions on freedom of expression.

But, Cardona added, ``The INS does have the authority to remove her to a third country.″

A jubilant Samadi appeared at a Capitol Hill news conference on Tuesday and thanked the many members of Congress and other Americans who rallied to her support.

Of her 98 days in confinement in Alabama, she said in halting English, ``I have gone through hell.″

Her lawyer, Michael Maggio, said her legs and arms had been shackled during her confinement.

Cardona said Samadi was detained at a facility administered by a company hired by the INS. She said procedures at the facility are set up by the contractor and not the INS.

Samadi said she and two brothers engaged in dissident activities not long after the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran. She was arrested, she said, after the execution of her brothers.

She said she was tortured during her time in an Iranian prison, from 1982 to 1986. She made her way to Iraq in the early 1990s and spent several months working with NLA rebels active in that country.

She arrived in the United States in 1994 and was granted political asylum in 1995. As part of a settlement reached with the immigration court on Monday, she voluntarily relinquished her political asylum status.

Canadian authorities arrested her earlier this year on grounds that her past associations made her a danger to the community. Canada then deported her to the United States.

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On the Net: State Department: www.state.gov/www/regions/nea/index.html

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