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World

AFP
November 8, 2019

Iranian model granted political asylum in Philippines

World

AFP
Fri, Nov 08, 2019

MANILA: An Iranian woman sought by Tehran on criminal charges has been granted political asylum in the Philippines, an official said Friday, ending a three-week standoff at Manila airport.

Bahareh Zare Bahari, based in the Philippines since 2014, was denied entry into the Southeast Asian nation on October 17 when she returned from Dubai, with Philippine authorities citing an Iranian warrant for her arrest.

Claiming Tehran wanted to punish her for opposition to Iran's theocratic regime, Bahari then sought refugee status, holed up in a room at Manila's international airport and using social media to rally support from the international community — including a plea to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

Iranian national Bahareh Zare Bahari, who sought refugee status after she was denied entry into the Philippines on October 18, at her day room while holed up at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport terminal building in Manila, Philippines, October 28, 2019. AFP/STR

Philippine Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete told AFP that she had been granted political asylum, adding that she was detained because Iran had asked Interpol for help in arresting and returning her on assault and battery charges.

"She will be getting out of the airport and coming into Philippine territory," Perete said but declined to discuss the grounds on which she was granted asylum citing confidentiality rules in the United Nations refugee convention.

When asked for comment, a consular official at the Iranian embassy in Manila told AFP to call back on Monday.

In a video posted on her Facebook page two weeks ago, Bahari said she had lived in the Philippines since 2014, studied dentistry, and started a modelling and acting career.

She represented Iran at the Miss Intercontinental beauty pageant in Manila last year and said Tehran wanted her deported because of her "political activity".