2 Iranian poets, facing lashings and prison, escape Iran

DUBAI: Two Iranian poets who faced lashings and prison sentences for their work have escaped from Iran.

Poet Fatemeh Ekhtesari told The Associated Press on Monday that both she and fellow poet Mehdi Mousavi escaped from Iran in recent days and were safely in another country. She declined to elaborate out of concerns about their safety.

The two poets' escape comes as Ekhtesari faced an 11½-year prison sentence, while Mousavi faced nine years on charges ranging from propaganda against the state to "insulting sanctities," as well as 99 lashings apiece.

While they are free, other Iranian artists, journalists and activists remain either behind bars or face charges for their work in Iran, despite a recent nuclear deal with world powers and the release of four Iranian-American prisoners.