Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Iranian-American Jailed in Teheran

This is so upsetting. As with the British journalist held in Gaza, civilized people and governments are powerful when faced with despots. I hope the ayatollahs free this prominent scholar soon.
--Wendy in Washington

Tehran Jails Iranian American Scholar After Long House Arrest

By Robin Wright
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 9, 2007; A12

Iran yesterday detained prominent American academic Haleh Esfandiari, director of the Middle East Program at the Smithsonian Institution's Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, according to center president and director Lee H. Hamilton and Esfandiari's husband.

Esfandiari, a dual U.S.-Iranian citizen who has lived in the United States for more than a quarter-century, has been under virtual house arrest since December, when the government refused to allow her to leave Iran after visiting her 93-year-old mother. Since then, she has been summoned repeatedly for interrogations by intelligence officials about U.S. programs on Iran. In particular, she was questioned about Iran programs at the Wilson Center, one of Washington's most prominent foreign policy think tanks.

Esfandiari was summoned by the intelligence ministry again yesterday but was then taken to Tehran's notorious Evin Prison, the sources said.

Esfandiari is one of three "soft hostages," all dual U.S.-Iranian nationals, whose passports have been confiscated by the Iranian government, rendering them unable to leave the country.

The United States has not faced such tension over Americans held in Iran since the 1979-1981 hostage crisis, when 52 Americans were held for 444 days. Until Esfandiari' s detention yesterday, the Wilson Center and her family had sought to avoid publicity in hopes that she would be granted a new passport.

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