Wednesday, May 9, 2007

American-Iranian academic jailed in Iran

According to the New York Times:

Haleh Esfandiari, an Iranian-American academic who is prominent in Washington, was imprisoned yesterday in the Iranian capital of Tehran after being barred from leaving the country four months ago, said the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Ms. Esfandiari, the director of the Middle East program at the Wilson center, in Washington, D.C., had endured repeated interrogations since December about her work there and was taken to Evin prison yesterday, where she was allowed one call to inform relatives that she had been jailed.

"Whatever they think my wife did seems to be in their imagination; she hasn't done anything wrong," said Shaul Bakhash, her husband, a well-known Iran expert who is a professor of Middle East history at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. "I hope they realize that they made this mistake and let her return to her family."


Such events happen every day to Iranians and Syrians and Egyptians who are in no way less noble and worthy thanf Ms. Esfandari. But the New York Times would not have publicized this particular instance if the victim were not an American citizen.

Why did the Iranians do it? Because they can. Because the US demonstrated to them in 1979 that US citizens and diplomatic protocol can be abused with impunity.

Ami Isseroff



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