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Sweden offers refuge to exiled Iranian activist

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08:47 CET+01:00
Iranian journalist and women's rights activist Parvin Ardalan has accepted Sweden's offer of refuge after she was sentenced to several jail terms in her native country.

"She has accepted our offer and should be here by the end of the month," Fredrik Elg, cultural attaché in the southern city of Malmö, told AFP.

Ardalan had been invited to Malmö within the framework of the International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN), and would be housed at a secret address in the city for up to two years, he said.

The activist, born in 1967, would also receive a grant to allow her to "freely carry out her profession," the city of Malmö said in a statement.

Ardalan had left Iran and was "out travelling," Elg said, adding that he did not know where she would be staying before settling in Malmö.

Last week, she was in Paris accepting a "Net Citizen" award from Google and French media rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on behalf of the women's rights blog we-change.org.

Ardalan, who has been sentenced to several jail terms in Iran on charges of seeking to harm national security, became a household name in Sweden after she won the 2007 Olof Palme Prize for her work to promote women's rights in her home country.

Teheran's refusal to allow her to attend the ceremony in March 2008 caused outrage in the Scandinavian country.

The Olof Palme Memorial Fund on Monday welcomed the news that Ardalan would

be coming to Sweden.

"It has been a pleasure to see the interest surrounding her work and I am convinced that Parvin Ardalan will contribute to both the cultural life in Malmö and increased work for human rights in Iran," head of the Fund Pierre Schori said in a statement.

The Olof Palme Prize is named after the Swedish prime minister who was gunned down in February 1986.

Created to promote peace and disarmament and combat racism and xenophobia,

the prize consists of a diploma and $75,000.

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