Gary Sick elaborates on his role in Kian’s case:
“Last week, an Iranian-American colleague of mine, Kian Tajbaksh, was sentenced in Tehran to 15 years in prison. The indictment included the charges that (1) he was in contact with me; (2) that he was part of the Gulf/2000 network that I manage; and (3) that I am an agent of the CIA…
There are a number of commentators on Iran, such as Reuel Gerecht, Graham Fuller, and Bruce Riedel, who indeed worked for the CIA. Although their political views disagree sharply, they always identify themselves as former CIA employees. I do not identify myself that way for the very simple reason that I never worked for the CIA.
The prosecutors charge that Kian was in touch with me. Right. We were both academics in New York, and we saw each other from time to time. However, I have gone back over the past 20 years with that in mind, and I am struck by something quite different. Over that period of time, I have known every Iranian ambassador to the United Nations and many members of the staff of the Iranian U.N. mission. I have spent much more time with them than with Kian.
More important, I have been in meetings with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on four different occasions over the past three years. I have spent at least nine hours with him, much more than I ever spent with Kian. In my last meeting with Mr. Ahmadinejad, I told him that if he were simply a lowly academic, instead of the president of Iran, he would be subject to arrest upon his return to Iran for meeting with the roomful of U.S. academics and think tank representatives that he had assembled at his hotel. He scoffed at the idea. Now one of my colleagues, a lowly Iranian-American professor who was about to take up a position at my university, is being condemned to 15 years in prison because, among other things, he had contact with me.
Iranian security officials are notably lacking in any sense of irony or humor. But I do wonder whether President Ahmadinejad is being considered for indictment because of his extensive contacts with me over the past four years.
The Gulf/2000 network is an Internet project that began 16 years ago to facilitate communication and information sharing among individuals who have a professional association with issues involving the Persian Gulf. It includes individuals of widely differing backgrounds and opinions, including both private citizens and government officials from countries around the world, including Iran. If any Iranian government official wishes to know about G2K, as we call it, he need only consult his colleagues who are members. G2K is routinely cited in international conferences in Tehran and elsewhere as a reliable source of informed commentary and factual information about issues involving the Persian Gulf. It is limited to specialists, but it is not a secret. It includes individuals of every possible political persuasion. And it is not engaged in overthrowing governments.
The indictment against Kian is in fact an indictment of the legal and security structure of the Iranian government. The charges are false, deliberately false. They consist of a series of political fabrications devoid of even the flimsiest effort to verify the truth.
These accusations cast shame on any institution that professes respect for justice and law. They substantiate the words of Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, one the founders of the Islamic Republic of Iran, that this government is no longer either Islamic or a republic but merely the latest in the shabby succession of Middle Eastern military regimes. These charges remind us of the excesses of the Stalinist show trials and the abominations of the Chinese Red Guards—examples of revolutions that betrayed their own ideals.
This is not about Kian, and it is certainly not about me. It is about the abject failure of a ruling clique that has lost the confidence and support of its own people and must contrive scapegoats to excuse its own deficiencies.”