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      Lawyer for Freed US Hikers Barred from Leaving Iran

      Iranian officials confiscated the passport of the lawyer who represented two now-freed US hikers held in the country for two years.
      By Gabe Kahn.
      First Publish: 10/5/2011, 2:16 AM

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      The Iranian lawyer who represented two now-free US hikers held by Tehran for two years on charges of espionage and illegally entering the country has been barred from leaving the Islamic Republic.

      A source close to the case told AFP on Sunday lawyer Masoud Shafii had been barred from leaving the country at the airport.

      "This morning at around six o'clock (0230 GMT), after getting his passport stamped and as he was boarding the plane, his passport was confiscated by order of the judiciary," the source said on condition of anonymity.

      Shafii "could not proceed to his final destination which was the United States," the source added, without elaborating on why his passport had been seized.

      On Tuesday Shafii was arrested at his home and questioned for several hours by judiciary officials before being released, the source said, adding that agents confiscated documents, his computer and his passport, but returned them later.

      Shafii represented Shane Bauer, Josh Fattal and Sarah Shourd in a case which lasted for more than two years. He maintained his clients were innocent throughout their incarceration, and was criticized by conservative hardliners in the Islamic republic.

      Shafii also criticized the judiciary for not allowing him proper access to his clients, as required by the law. He met them briefly only three times in two years, once before the start of their trial, and once before each of two hearings in February and August.

      Barring dissidents and from leaving the country - and potentially criticizing the regime in foreign media outlets - has become increasingly common under President Mahmoud Ahmadinijad since the failed "green revolution" of 2009.

      In July officials in Tehran held popular dissident actress Pegah Ahangarani incommunicado for 17 days after confiscating her passport and barring her from attending the TV programs about the FIFA Women's World Cup, where she was expected to act as a commentator for Germany's international broadcast service Deutsche Welle.