Azima's lawyer, Mohammad Hossein Aghasi, told Radio Farda on May 21 that the bond amount set by the court was "unprecedented" in Iranian jurisprudence. Aghasi also asserted that the entire case against Azima has no basis in Iranian law, as the prosecutor's office cannot cite a single clause that would support the charges prosecutors plan to bring against Azima.
During a May 15 appearance at the Special Security Bureau of the Revolutionary Court's Public Prosecutor's office, Azima was told that she would be charged with working for Radio Farda, an organization that prosecutors claim "spreads propaganda against the Islamic republic." Based on these charges, bail was set at 400 million tooman -- an amount prosecutors based on an estimate of the salary Azima earned during her nine years of employment with RFE/RL. The prosecutor's office claims this money was earned in an "illegitimate" way.
On May 21, Aghasi presented the deed to Azima's mother's Tehran home as bond. Officials accepted the bail but refused to return Azima's passport, citing "sensitivities" connected to the Information Ministry's interest in the case, Aghasi said.
"There is absolutely no reason for Iranian authorities to be treating Ms. Azima in this way," RFE/RL President Jeffrey Gedmin said today. "She was traveling to Iran on private business when her passport was seized. I find it ludicrous that Iranian authorities feel the need to criminalize a daughter's desire to visit her severely ill mother."
Gedmin also expressed his appreciation for the efforts of U.S. diplomats and their Swiss colleagues in Tehran to resolve the issues that are keeping Azima from leaving Iran.
Azima's passport was confiscated upon her arrival at Tehran's airport on January 25, 2007, to visit her mother. She holds U.S. and Iranian citizenship.
Radio Farda is a joint RFE/RL-Voice of America Persian-language broadcast service to Iran. Azima joined RFE/RL in 1998 and is based at RFE/RL's broadcast headquarters in Prague, Czech Republic.