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Iran blocks football star's family from leaving

December 27, 2022

Iranian footballer Ali Daei said a plane en route from Tehran to Dubai had been rerouted and his family members ordered off. Daei is a public backer of anti-regime protests following the death of Jina Mahsa Amini.

Iranian footballer Ali Daei
Ali Daei has also been targeted by the Iranian government, after he made regime-critical posts on social mediaImage: Hasan Sarbakhshian/AP Photo/picture alliance

Ali Daei, an Iranian footballer who has expressed his support for anti-government protests, said his wife and daughter were prevented from traveling abroad on Monday after their plane made an unannounced diversion en route to Dubai.

What do we know so far?

According to Daei, his wife and daughter departed from the Iranian capital, Tehran, but their flight made an unannounced stop on Kish Island in the Persian Gulf, where they were questioned by authorities.

The footballer said his daughter had been released, but she was unable to reboard the flight to Dubai. Daei said his family had planned to travel to the United Arab Emirates and return next week.

The semi-official Tasnim News Agency, believed to be close to the Iranian Revoltionary Guard Corps (IRGC), said a travel ban was imposed on Daei's wife earlier this month because of her support for the protests.

And the state-run IRNA news agency, citing the judiciary, said that "Daei's wife had pledged to inform the relevant institutions of her decision before leaving the country," due to her association with anti-regime groups.

Daei's anti-government posts draw regime backlash

Daei is one of several Iranian celebrities who have come out in support of the protests ignited by the death of 22-year-old Jina Mahsa Amini in September. 

Iran protests reverberate around the world

On September 27, he used social media to call on the government to "solve the problems of the Iranian people rather than using repression, violence and arrests." 

The footballer has had multiple run-ins with the authorities following his remarks online. In October, Daei's passport was confiscated by police upon his return from abroad, before being returned to him a few days later.

In December, his jewelry shop and restaurant in Tehran's fashionable north were sealed, with local media reporting they had been ordered shut for "cooperation with anti-revolutionary groups in cyberspace."

dh/wd (AFP, AP)

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