updated 2/29/2008 5:52:30 PM ET 2008-02-29T22:52:30

A Moldovan investigative reporter who has been banned from Russia since December spent a third day stuck inside a Moscow airport terminal Friday after flying in with her new Russian husband.

Natalia Morar, a reporter with Russia's The New Times magazine, married a Russian colleague in her native Moldova last week to try to get around the ban, but when they arrived in the Russian capital they were not allowed to leave the airport.

Officials at Domodedovo airport told Morar on Thursday that they would force her to board a flight to Moldova if she declined to go voluntarily.

"Yesterday they surrounded us, but we tied ourselves together with a leather strap so that they couldn't separate us," she told The Associated Press by telephone.

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.

The RIA-Novosti news agency quoted law enforcement sources as saying Morar has been banned from Russia on grounds of national security. The federal border service could not be reached for comment.

The Foreign Ministry said that authorities are under no obligation to admit her to the country, despite her marriage to a Russian, Ilya Barabanov.

"The fact that Natalia Morar has married a Russian citizen bears absolutely no influence on this decision, something her lawyers know perfectly well," ITAR-Tass news agency quoted a ministry official as saying.

Morar said she has not been allowed to speak with her lawyer or recharge her cell phone, and that officials have refused to provide food. "All we have left to go on is a packet of cookies," she said.

The Committee to Protect Journalists said Thursday that it was concerned for Morar and Barabanov's well-being.

Critics say Putin has presided over a steady rollback of post-Soviet media and political freedoms. Leading independent television stations have been shut down and print media have also experienced growing official pressure.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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