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Iranians Detained In Connection With Arrested U.S. Scholars

Haleh Esfandiari (left) and Kian Tajbakhsh as they appeared in an Iranian television program that highlighted their alleged subversive activities (file photo) (AFP) July 25, 2007 -- Iranian Intelligence Minister Gholamhussein Mohseni-Ejei says authorities in Tehran have detained several people for having ties with two Iranian-Americans arrested in May.

The minister did not specify how many people have been detained.

He also did not identify those detained or clarify whether they were dual nationals.

He described those detained as "local agents" and "part of a network used by" Haleh Esfandiari and Kian Tajbakhsh.

Esfandiari is an academic at the U.S.-based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Tajbakhsh is a consultant with the Soros Institute.

They were detained separately while visiting their relatives in Iran in May.

Iranian officials have said that the detained Iranian-American scholars are part of a U.S.-backed plot aimed at destabilizing Iran’s Islamic establishment.

Two other Iranian-Americans have been also barred from leaving Iran. One of them, Ali Shakeri, a peace activist, is reportedly in jail. Parnaz Azima, a broadcaster with Radio Farda, is free on bail.

The detention of the Iranian-Americans has exacerbated already-tense U.S.-Iranian relations.

Nevertheless, Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki today said Tehran is ready to consider high-level talks with the United States.

(Reuters, AP, AFP)

RFE/RL Iran Report

RFE/RL Iran Report

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