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Heard This Week - 05/10/2007

Heard in Iran This Week
on Radio Farda

(Washington, DC -- May 10, 2007) Radio Farda provided its listeners and website visitors in Iran news concerning the arrest, after months of virtual house arrest, of prominent Iranian-American scholar Haleh Esfandiari; reports on police actions to prevent yet another teacher's ally in front of the Iranian parliament and on the arrest of the editor of a student publication at restive Amir Kabir University in Tehran; news of the expulsion of a lawyer from court while in the midst of defending the doctor of student activist Ahmed Batebi; and reports on the Sharm El-Sheikh conference and the potential for Iran-U.S. dialogue.

>> Radio Farda reported on May 9 that Iranian-American scholar Haleh Esfandiari, the director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center's Middle East Program in Washington, DC, was arrested and taken to Tehran's Evin prison. Esfandiari had traveled to Iran in December 2006 to visit her 93-year old mother; her passport was taken from her during a robbery while she was on her way to the airport to depart the country on December 30. (
Radio Farda broadcast interviews about the Esfandiari case on May 9 with both Woodrow Wilson International Center Director Lee Hamilton and human rights activist Emadeddin Baghi. Hamilton expressed to Radio Farda the frustration and distress he and his colleagues felt concerning her detention and, now, arrest in Iran: "She has been interrogated for over 50 to 60 hours and has been harassed. And this is gone on long enough. We want Haleh home." Baghi also expressed his concern, confirming to Radio Farda that Iranian newspapers or government sources have yet to officially confirm Esfandiari's arrest.
Also on May 9, Radio Farda's "Evening Magazine" broadcast an interview with Hadi Ghaemi, Iran researcher for Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa Division. Ghaemi asserted that Esfandiari's arrest is part of an attempt to turn the country into a police state. Referring to recent arrests of women's rights activists, students and teachers, he stated that it is clear that such measures put Iran in a crisis situation and make this country more isolated. He also pointed out that, so far, the Iranian government has given no information about the reason for her arrest (; English translation at

>> Radio Farda reported on May 8 that police and security forces prevented teachers from gathering in front of the Iranian parliament. According to Iran media, at least 20 demonstrators were arrested and some were beaten. In an interview broadcast on Radio Farda's "Evening Magazine," lawyer Abdolfattah Soltani said that the assault, battery, arrest and detention of teachers in solitary cells are an obvious example of how people's basic rights are violated. In no other country, Soltani said, are teachers in such a deplorable way (

>> In the wake of last week's unrest at Amir Kabir University, the editor of the student publication "Sahar," Ahmad Ghasaban was arrested by plainclothes agents. The deputy secretary of the university's Islamic Students Association, Ali Azizi told Radio Farda on May 4 that he had no information about the whereabouts of Ghasaban. Azizi also said he believes what happened at Amir Kabir University was a plot against students at this university who heckled President Ahmadinejad during a Students' Day speech there on December 11, 2006. "President Ahmadinejad called us pseudo-students and said that we would pay heavily," Azizi told Radio Farda. In addition, Azizi said, deputy parliament speaker Mohammad Reza Bahonar said students at Amir Kabir University "will pay for what they have done--so [the government] was looking for an opportunity to harm us," concluded Azizi (

>> Radio Farda reported that Khalil Bahramian, the lawyer representing Hessam Firouzi, the physician treating student activist Ahmad Batebi and a member of the Defenders of Human Rights Center, was expelled from court while defending his client on May 7. Bahramian was also detained for a short time afterwards. According to Bahramian, the judge of the Sixth Branch of Tehran's Revolutionary Court warned him in the middle of his defense and, when Bahramian objected, the judge threatened him with expulsion and arrest. He felt like being interrogated, Bahramian told Radio Farda, "I did not feel that I was in a court" (

>> A Radio Farda correspondent provided live coverage of the May 3-4 meetings on Iraq at Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, where she asked Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki a question during the press conference and had exclusive interviews with EU foreign policy head Javier Solana and other prominent figures in attendance.
Radio Farda's "Evening Magazine" on May 5 also broadcast interviews concerning the conference and the possibility of a dialogue there between the U.S. and Iran. Germany-based political analyst Mehran Bayati told Radio Farda the U.S. wanted to have a dialogue with a person who had "full authority" from his government, while Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki had no specific authority for talks with the U.S. Washington-based political analyst Mohsen Sazegara noted that leaders in both countries are divided about how to improve relations: "Both in Washington and Tehran, many problems exist between political factions that make dialogue between the two countries difficult" (

For more on these and other stories about Iran, please visit: -- Radio Farda's Persian-language website -- "Focus on Farda" bi-weekly review -- "RFE/RL Iran Report" weekly analysis -- RFE/RL English-language coverage of Iran

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