Haleh Esfandiari (left) and Parnaz Azima (RFE/RL)
June 2, 2007 -- The head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, Ali Larijani, has defended his country's detention and investigation of several Iranian-Americans.
Iran has detained two Iranian-American scholars, Haleh Esfandiari and Kian Tajbakhsh, as well as peace activist Ali Shakeri.
All three are being held on suspicions of spying or acting against state interests. A fourth, Parnaz Azima -- a reporter with Radio Farda -- has been charged with disseminating propaganda and is free on bail awaiting trial.
Larijani told CNN in an interview today that for Tehran all four were "Iranians before they were Americans."
He said America should stop its criticism and leave their cases up to the Iranian justice system.
U.S. President George W. Bush has condemned Iran's holding of the U.S. citizens and called for their release.