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Heard This Week - 05/31/2007

Heard in Iran This Week
on Radio Farda

(Washington, DC -- May 31, 2007) Radio Farda continued its comprehensive coverage of the crisis involving Iranian-American dual nationals being arrested and/or prevented from leaving Iran -- including Radio Farda correspondent Parnaz Azima -- as well as addressing other issues of international concern, such as Iran's defiance of U.N. resolutions in its pursuit of the capability to enrich uranium.
Web pages documenting Azima's fate have been launched both on Radio Farda's website ( and on the English-language RFE/RL website (

>> Radio Farda, citing IRIB News, reported on May 29 that Iranian Judiciary spokesman Ali Reza Jamshidi announced Iranian-American citizen Haleh Esfandiari had been charged with "endangering national security through propaganda against the system and espionage for foreigners... The complainant is the Information Ministry." According to Jamshidi, Iranian Americans Kian Tajbakhsh and Parnaz Azima also face the same charges. No trial date has been announced and the investigation against all three is continuing, said Jamshidi (
During an exclusive Radio Farda interview that day, Mohammad Hossein Aghasi, the lawyer of Radio Farda correspondent Parnaz Azima rejected Jamshidi's statement concerning the allegations made against his client. According to Aghasi, "The allegation which was read to Ms. Azima was 'propaganda against the regime' meaning that her only alleged crime is working in Radio Farda, and in fact, reporting on Iran and reading those reports on the radio which cannot be considered as action." Aghasi also noted that, at his last meeting with the Special Security Bureau of the Revolutionary Court's Public Prosecutor's Office, he had been told to return in 10 days to regain Azima's passport. As bail for the return of the passport -- US$550,000 in the form of the deed to her mother's home in Tehran -- was paid, there is no reason to keep Azima in Iran. Aghasi told Radio Farda that, to date, the allegations made against Azima have not changed and emphasized that a serious new charge should not be announced in public before the defendant is informed. Aghasi concluded that the judiciary spokesman should either deny or correct his words (

>> Radio Farda's "Viewpoints" roundtable on May 25 addressed the recent detention of Iranian-American citizens in Tehran. Nayereh Tohidi, Professor and Chair of the Women's Studies Department at California State University-Northridge and a former fellow of Woodrow Wilson Center, sees the recent arrests as an attempt to restrict the transnational relations of Iranian scholars as well as an attempt to use them as leverage in the upcoming US-Iran talks. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, one of the lawyers representing both Haleh Esfandiari and Parnaz Azima, said she has not been allowed to study the case yet and noted that a defendants' right to an attorney and a fair trial is regularly ignored in cases related to political prisoners. Mohammad Seifzadeh, another of Esfandiari's lawyers said the crime with which a person is charged should be recognized in law and there should be a punishment for it; in the case of his client, there is no such term as "soft subversion of the regime" in Iranian criminal law (

>> On May 24, Radio Farda cited a Human Rights Watch report that Iranian-American activist Ali Shakeri had been arrested in Tehran. Shakeri is a member of the Community Advisory Board of the Center for Citizen Peacebuilding at the University of California-Irvine. In its statement, Human Rights Watch called for the immediate release of all Iranian-American citizens, noting the rising number of arrests and detentions of Iranian-American scholars in Iran indicates an Iranian government campaign to deter local civil society activists from interacting with Iranians living abroad (

>> On May 25, Radio Farda reported that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called his country a "nuclear country" and declared, "Today in Iran not even one person talks of the suspension [of uranium enrichment activities], and if there is one, he dares not talk about it; no one is allowed to talk of suspension even for one second" (

>> Following the May 24 release of the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) report on Iran's increase of uranium enrichment activities despite the demands contained in U.N. Security Council Resolution 1747, Radio Farda interviewed U.S. Ambassador to the IAEA Gregory Schulte. Amb. Schulte said that the UN Security Council had proposed mutual suspensions: "If Iran suspends the activities of concern, then the Security Council will suspend existing sanctions and suspend its consideration of future sanctions... but the report says Iran is not suspending and so therefore the Security Council will move forward with the third set of sanctions." The U.S. judgment, Amb. Schulte told Radio Farda, is that the soonest Iran could acquire nuclear weapons is in the next decade, "So that gives us time for diplomacy, but it doesn't give us time for complacency." While expressing hope that Iran will eventually cooperate with the IAEA, Amb. Schulte said nuclear weapons will not bring safety to Iran, but will rather spark a nuclear arms race in the Middle East (

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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