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Nobel Laureate To Defend Iranian-American Scholar

Haleh Esfandiari (file photo) ( May 17, 2007 -- Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi and two other lawyers from her Human Rights Defenders Center will defend an Iranian-American scholar awaiting trial in Tehran, saying Haleh Esfandiari's detention violates Iranian law.

Reports have suggested that Esfandiari is being detained on charges of "acting against national security."

But Ebadi said authorities have ignored requests from her Human Rights Defenders Center colleagues for information about the specific charges against Esfandiari or the reasons for her arrest.

Esfandiari, director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center's Middle East Program in Washington, was taken to Tehran's Evin prison on May 8 after being barred from leaving the country four months ago.

"Unfortunately, the style of the [Iranian] Revolutionary Court regarding those charged with political crimes is such that it never allows lawyers to meet their clients or to be informed about the charge against them and the reasons for it," Ebadi told Radio Farda today. "All of these actions I mentioned are against the law, and we have always protested against [such actions]."

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on Iranian authorities to release Esfandiari immediately and allow her to return to the United States.

(Radio Farda, AFP)

RFE/RL Iran Report

RFE/RL Iran Report

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