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Iranian-U.S. Scholar Esfandiari Leaves Iran

Haleh Esfandiari on Iranian television after her release from prison (AFP) September 3, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Iranian-U.S. scholar Haleh Esfandiari, who was released from a Tehran prison on August 21, has reportedly received her passport from Iranian authorities and left Iran.

The Associated Press quotes her daughter, Haleh Bakhash, as saying Esfandiari plans to stay in Austria for a week to reunite with family before going back to the United States.

Her lawyer, Abdul-Fattah Soltani, told Radio Farda today that Esfandiari left Iran without any difficulties.

"Based on information I have received she apparently left Iran last night after she received her passport from the authorities," he said.

Esfandiari, who is 67, had been detained on security charges since May, and was released on bail of 3 billion rials ($320,000). She had been imprisoned in the notorious Evin prison.

Her release was welcomed by the United States and human-rights groups.

Several other Iranian-Americans have been jailed in Iran on security-related charges in recent months as part of a broader crackdown targeting scholars, labor activists, and others deemed threatening to the government.

Kian Tajbakhsh, a consultant with the Open Society Institute, is apparently still imprisoned, as is Ali Shakeri, a peace activist.

Authorities have also refused to allow a fourth Iranian-American, Radio Farda broadcaster Parnaz Azima, to leave Iran. They have charged Azima with and spreading propaganda against the Iranian state.

Radio Farda's Parnaz Azima

Radio Farda's Parnaz Azima