Ekhtesari, a 29-year-old poet who has been targeted by the country's hard-liners for her explorations of gender discrimination and domestic violence, has fled the Islamic republic, after being sentenced last year to 11 1/2 years in prison and 99 lashes. "Abandoning one’s country is very difficult. It was a tough decision," Ekhtesari tells RFE/RL over the phone from an undisclosed location. But she says she had to leave because of a lack of hope that an appeal process would lead to her acquittal.
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