Iranian given asylum in Norway

2007-12-13 21:11

Oslo - An Iranian national who had spent almost seven years in a church to avoid deportation was on Thursday granted permission to stay in Norway, media reports said.

The Norwegian Immigration Appeals Board said it would grant Shahla Valadi permission to stay on humanitarian grounds.

"Yes, I am a free human being again", 36-year-old Valadi said.

While overturning an earlier decision by the Directorate of Immigration, the board agreed that Valadi would not face persecution if she returned to Iran.

Valadi made several applications to stay in Norway after visiting a brother in 1999 and learning that a close friend had disappeared in Iran.

After her initial asylum application was rejected, she lived in a church in the town of Mysen, south-eastern Norway. During her years in the Pentecostal church Valadi converted to Christianity.

She feared persecution in Iran over her earlier political activities on behalf of the Kurdish minority. Two of her brothers have been granted asylum - one in Norway and the other one in Canada.- Sapa-dpa