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Iran Bans U.S. Wrestlers In Retaliation For U.S. Visa Restrictions

The official Iranian news agency says Tehran has banned a U.S. wrestling team from a major tournament it is hosting, as the fallout from the war of words between the two countries reached the sporting world.

The IRNA news agency on February 3 quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi as saying it has barred the U.S. team from the February 16-17 Freestyle World Cup in response to U.S. President Donald Trump's immigration crackdown.

Tehran previously said it will stop U.S. citizens from entering the country in retaliation for Trump's order to ban citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, including Iran, from entering the United States for a 90-day period, among other restrictions.

"The visa policy of the new American administration gave us no other option but to ban the wrestlers," Ghasemi told state TV.

Trump has said the immigration restrictions were made to prevent potential terrorists from entering the country, but it has been met by legal challenges in U.S. courts and protests in the United States and abroad. Courts in the U.S. states of Washington, Virginia, and Massachusetts are all hearing cases challenging the restrictions.

The order also suspends all refugee admissions for 120 days and indefinitely stops the processing of refugees from Syria.

An attorney for the U.S. government revealed during a court case on February 3 that more than 100,000 visas have been revoked as a result of the order. The State Department later corrected that figure downward to 60,000.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

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