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Radio Farda Broadcaster Says Her Case Still Open

Parnaz Azima in Prague in 2005 (RFE/RL) September 5, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Radio Farda broadcaster Parnaz Azima, who has been prevented from leaving Iran for seven months, says her legal situation remains unclear, even though she received permission this week to leave the country.

Azima spoke to Radio Farda on September 4 shortly after she picked up her passport, which had been taken from her when she arrived in January.

"I asked [the Iranian authorities] whether my bail issue would be resolved. They said 'no.' The bail issue remains and [the authorities said] that my case remains open," she said. "It means that my lawyer should contact them and they will set a date for the trial. For now I cannot predict the decision the Intelligence Ministry or the judiciary will make in my case."

Azima told Radio Farda on September 4 that her mother's house, which was put up as bail for her release, would not be returned, and that a court date has yet to be set. "I spoke to my lawyer and he told me he was planning to set a court date as soon as possible to clarify my case," she said. "Personally, I can't make any predictions how my case will be resolved."

Authorities returned Azima's passport on September 4, one day after Iranian-American Haleh Esfandiari, who had been released on bail on August 21 after spending three months in jail, was able to leave the country.

Esfandiari, the Middle East program director of the Woodrow Wilson Institute, was detained in May on security charges.

Tehran had prevented Azima from leaving Iran for the past several months and charged her with disseminating propaganda against the Iranian state.

Azima told Radio Farda today that she will leave Iran and return to her life in Prague as soon as possible. She said that the authorities "told me with the return of my passport, my travel ban had also been lifted and I could leave whenever I wished."

Other Iranian-Americans Still Detained

Meanwhile, two other Iranian-Americans remain in jail in Tehran.

On September 4, Iranian Judge Hossein Hadad was quoted as saying that one of them, Kian Tajbakhsh, who has been detained in Tehran on spying charges since May, will be released on bail when the investigation is complete.

Tajbakhsh is a consultant with the Open Society Institute, founded by billionaire investor George Soros.

"The Washington Post" reported today that the institute said on September 4 that Iran's detention of Tajbakhsh is "unconscionable," especially because Iranian officials had told his family that he would be released last week.

There is no news about Ali Shakeri, a peace activist from California who has also been in jail in Iran since May.

Several human-rights groups and a number of U.S. politicians have called on Iran to release the detained Iranian-Americans and let them leave the country.

Iranian-Americans Detained In Iran

Iranian-Americans Detained In Iran

Haleh Esfandiari, the director of the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, was detained in Iran in May. She was charged with acting against Iran's national security. Esfandiari along with another detained Iranian-American scholar, Kian Tajbakhsh, appeared on Iranian television in July in a program that -- according to Iranian officials -- showed that the two are linked to a U.S. plot to destabilize Iran's Islamic establishment. Human-rights groups strongly condemned the program and said any statements that were made were coerced. Esfandiari was released from jail on August 21 on a bail of about $300,000. She was allowed to leave Iran on September 3.

Kian Tajbakhsh, a consultant with the Open Society Institute, was also detained in Iran in May, and released on bail on September 20. He is also facing security charges including acting against Iran's national security. He was reportedly detained at Tehran's notorious Evin prison in solitary confinement.

Ali Shakeri, a peace activist and businessman based in Irvine, California, is believed to have been detained since May 8. He was reportedly arrested at Tehran's international airport while leaving for Europe. Iranian authorities confirmed his detention in June. On August 12, Tehran's deputy prosecutor said that Shakeri's case was not related to the cases of Esfandiari and Tajbakhsh and that "the time had not yet arrived for providing full information about his situation." His wife, colleagues, and human-rights groups have expressed concern over his fate.

Parnaz Azima, a broadcaster with Radio Farda, was prevented from leaving Iran since a visit to her sick mother in January, when authorities confiscated her passport and charged her with working with Radio Farda and spreading propaganda against the state. On September 3, intelligence officials told her to collect her passport. Azima said she will leave Iran in the near future.