Barred Journalist Goes Home

An investigative reporter denied entry into Moscow last week as a threat to national security returned to her native Moldova on Saturday after her health deteriorated in the Domodedeovo Airport transit area.

Natalya Morar had refused to leave the transit area since Wednesday, when she was turned away despite what she said was her legal right to entry as the newly wed wife of a Russian citizen.

"Natasha felt unwell. Her kidneys started aching," her husband, Ilya Barabanov, said on Ekho Moskvy radio.

"I believed that by that stage we had done whatever we could and that we simply couldn't risk her health any more," said Barabanov, who like his wife works for The New Times magazine.

The newlyweds flew to Moldova's capital, Chisinau. Attempts to reach the couple by phone did not go through.

The New Times has been harshly critical of President Vladimir Putin. Supporters say the decision by the Federal Security Service to bar Morar is tied to her reports on illicit cash transfers to pro-Kremlin political parties.

Morar said Friday that she had not been allowed to speak with her lawyer or recharge her cell phone, and that officials refused to provide food.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, a press freedom watchdog, said Friday that it was "appalled by the treatment of our colleague who has been harassed and held in limbo."

The Russian Embassy in Moldova said Morar was on a list of people banned from entry to Russia as a threat to the health and safety of the Russian people. She was denied entry to Russia in December upon her return from a working trip to Israel.