(CNN)An Iranian beauty queen who has spent almost two weeks inside Manila's international airport says she will be killed if she is sent back home and is seeking asylum in the Philippines.
Stuck in an airport for almost two weeks, Iranian beauty queen says she will be killed if she is deported
Bahareh Zare Bahari, a contestant in the recent Miss Intercontinental pageant in Manila, claims Tehran is attempting to silence her because of her public stand against the government.
In a press release last week, the Philippines Immigration Department said the international police agency Interpol issued a worldwide request to arrest Bahari, known as a red notice. The statement did not specify which country requested the red notice, but Bahari told CNN that an immigration official told her Iran requested one in 2018.
"I have been living here since 2014 and I've not gone back to Iran. I explained to them many times, how can I have a criminal case in Iran when I've been living here?" she told CNN by phone.
Bahari said she has been confined to a passenger room in Terminal 3 of Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport since she arrived from Dubai 12 days ago. "I'm really mentally sick," she said, adding that the uncertainty over her case is wearing her down.
Bahari believes she is being targeted for supporting the exiled Reza Pahlavi, the son of the Shah of Iran overthrown in the country's 1979 revolution.
The beauty queen blamed the situation on Iranian authorities, saying it came up because she used an image of Pahlavi and the flag of the former Iranian monarchy as props during a recent competition. Bahari said she made the statement "to try and be the voice of my people."
She also believes she may be targeted because of her social activism in Iran. Bahari said that she became a teacher there because she wanted girls to learn "they are not things, they are not toys, they are human and they have same right as boys."