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Indiegogo stops B.C. woman's 'Operation Iran' campaign

A Vancouver woman trying to raise money online to fund a trip to Iran to reunite with her estranged mother says her fundraising account was frozen because of U.S. sanctions.

Alaleh Sahabi, 29, found her estranged mother via Facebook

Indiegogo is a popular crowdsourcing website. (CBC)

A Vancouver woman trying to raise money online to fund a trip to Iran to reunite with her estranged mother says her fundraising account was frozen because of U.S. sanctions against that country.

Alaleh Sahabi, 29, says she is worried she will lose the money she has already raised on the U.S.-based crowdsourcing website Indiegogo.

She hasn't seen her mother in more than 20 years and managed to get in touch with her via Facebook. She then launched an Indiegogo campaign called "Operation Iran," and family and friends donated more than $800.

But last week, Sahabi says an Indiegogo staffer contacted her and told her to change the account name and sign an agreement pledging that "no funds from the campaign shall be used to finance travel to or activities in Iran."

It also asks her to promise she isn't an official or agent of the government of Iran and that the campaign was independent of that government.

"They're making me jump through hoops for something that's … a little bit ridiculous," Sahabi told CBC News.

"I think this whole situation is a little bit racist because I'm a Canadian and you're basically calling me a criminal and making me sign this thing saying I'm not a criminal."

Sahabi said she hasn't heard from Indiegogo about what will happen to the funds.

Indiegogo did not reply to CBC News' request for an interview.

See the "compliance certificate" from Indiegogo here

With files from the CBC's Annie Ellison

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