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Detained Iranian-American Expects To Be Freed Soon


Kian Tajbakhsh (file photo) (Courtesy Photo) September 11, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Kian Tajbakhsh, an Iranian-American urban-planning consultant detained in Iran, today said he expects to be released "soon."


Tajbakhsh, who works for the Open Society Institute, has been held in Tehran's Evin prison since May for allegedly endangering Iran's national security.


Tajbakhsh told reporters visiting the prison today that no formal charges have been filed against him and that his case is still under investigation.


He also said conditions inside the prison are "fine."


An Iranian Judiciary spokesman who accompanied the media visit, Ali Reza Jamshidi, said charges in fact have been raised against Tajbakhsh, but that he will probably be released within the next few days.


Meanwhile, another Iranian-American facing charges in Iran -- Radio Farda broadcaster Parnaz Azima -- is expected to leave the country in the coming days after authorities returned her passport on September 4. She had been prevented from leaving Iran for about seven months.


Azima, who has been charged with spreading propaganda against the state, has been told that her case remains open and that there will be a court session at an unspecified date.


Iranian authorities recently released on bail another Iranian-American, Haleh Esfandiari, who had been imprisoned for some three months on similar accusations.


Esfandiari is the director of the Middle East Program of the Woodrow Wilson Institute in Washington, D.C. She was charged with involvement in what authorities have described as a U.S. plot aimed at destabilizing the Iranian regime.


In Washington on September 10, Esfandiari told journalists that she was treated well, and with respect, during her detention. She also appealed for greater dialogue between the United States and Iran.


There is no news, however, about Iranian-American Ali Shakeri, a peace activist from California who has also been in jail in Iran since May.


(Radio Farda)

Iranian-Americans Detained In Iran

Haleh Esfandiari, the director of the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, was detained in Iran in May. She was charged with acting against Iran's national security. Esfandiari along with another detained Iranian-American scholar, Kian Tajbakhsh, appeared on Iranian television in July in a program that -- according to Iranian officials -- showed that the two are linked to a U.S. plot to destabilize Iran's Islamic establishment. Human-rights groups strongly condemned the program and said any statements that were made were coerced. Esfandiari was released from jail on August 21 on a bail of about $300,000. She was allowed to leave Iran on September 3.

Kian Tajbakhsh, a consultant with the Open Society Institute, was also detained in Iran in May, and released on bail on September 20. He is also facing security charges including acting against Iran's national security. He was reportedly detained at Tehran's notorious Evin prison in solitary confinement.

Ali Shakeri, a peace activist and businessman based in Irvine, California, is believed to have been detained since May 8. He was reportedly arrested at Tehran's international airport while leaving for Europe. Iranian authorities confirmed his detention in June. On August 12, Tehran's deputy prosecutor said that Shakeri's case was not related to the cases of Esfandiari and Tajbakhsh and that "the time had not yet arrived for providing full information about his situation." His wife, colleagues, and human-rights groups have expressed concern over his fate.

Parnaz Azima, a broadcaster with Radio Farda, was prevented from leaving Iran since a visit to her sick mother in January, when authorities confiscated her passport and charged her with working with Radio Farda and spreading propaganda against the state. On September 3, intelligence officials told her to collect her passport. Azima said she will leave Iran in the near future.

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