Posts tagged: Iran Arrests

Iran Ban Targets Some 60 ‘Seditious’ Western Groups (Source: RFE/RL)

By , January 13, 2010 3:18 pm

Iran’s Intelligence Ministry has issued a list of 60 U.S. and international organizations that it accuses of inciting this summer’s post-election unrest and fomenting a “soft war” against the Islamic Republic:

“A deputy intelligence minister for international affairs, whose name was not given, accused the groups of working against the Iranian regime and said that contacts and cooperation with them were banned.

The unprecedented move appears to be part of the Iranian authorities’ efforts to isolate critics and activists inside Iran and prevent them from having any contact with the outside world.

Activists and opposition supporters say Iranian authorities have been intensifying efforts to limit the free flow of information in and out of Iran in the wake of mass protests against June’s disputed presidential election.

“Iran’s Intelligence Ministry has always been trying to prevent contacts between Iranians inside the country and international organizations,” says Faraj Sarkuhi, a prominent Iranian exiled writer and journalist. “In the past they accused the publication ‘Adineh,’ of which I was the chief editor, of espionage over contacts with International PEN [writers' organization] and said it is illegal.”

An extended list of the banned groups on the “gooya” news site includes: [Open Society Institute, Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, Yale University, RFE/RL's Radio Farda, the BBC, VOA, Radio Zamaneh], National Endowment for Democracy, National Republican Institute, Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, Search For Common Ground Organization, New American Foundation, British Center for Democratic Studies, East European Democratic Center, MEMRI, U.S. National Defense University, The Smith Richardson Foundation, and Brookings Institute.

The intelligence official said that contacts and cooperation with these organizations are banned.

Tini van Goor, director of the human rights department at Hivos, a Dutch NGO among those named, rejected the Iranian authorities’ charges.

But he also said the move came as no surprise, since Hivos — which has worked on women’s rights and HIV/AIDS issues with local civil society groups in Iran — had faced similar accusations in state media in recent years.

“It is simply nonsense what they say that we have an agenda of regime change or whatever,” he told RFE/RL. “No – what we did was being in contact with civil society activists. And those activists, some of them are also activists in the time of the post-election discussions in Tehran. But it is their choice.”

A prominent Tehran-based professor of law, Mahmud Akhundi, told Radio Farda that the Intelligence Ministry’s list and warning have no legal basis.

“It is in clear contradiction with human rights principles and with international principles of law. It doesn’t even have any Sharia-based justification,” Akhundi said. Nobody has the right “to define an action that has not been defined previously as a crime, as being criminal,” he added.

Writer Sarkuhi said he thinks the list could be used against those arrested in the postelection crackdown, which intensified after violence broke out during the Shi’ite commemoration of Ashura on December 27, leaving at least eight people dead.

The Intelligence Ministry “is making such a big claim at a time when Iranian authorities are getting ready to issue heavy sentences against arrested protesters; they want to use it to justify the heavy sentences that are likely to be issued,” Sarkuhi said.

In late November, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran was facing a “soft war” with its enemies abroad, who were fomenting the street protests that hit the country following the disputed June 12 vote.

Many of those arrested in the postelection crackdown have been accused of being involved in a “soft coup” against the Iranian clerical establishment.

Among those arrested and sentenced to jail is a well-known Iranian-American scholar, Kian Tajbakhsh, who used to work as a consultant with Soros’ Open Society Institute. His family and colleagues have rejected all the charges against him as baseless…”

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Interview with lawyer for Kian Tajbakhsh (Source: VOA-PNN)

By , January 13, 2010 3:11 pm

Kian’s lawyer Massoud Shafie discussed his client’s case in this television interview:

Jailed Iranian-American Faces 15 Years In Iran Prison (Source: NPR)

By , January 13, 2010 3:06 pm

National Public Radio (NPR) has posted a transcript of their story profiling Kian’s case:

Listen to the story

“Scholar Kian Tajbakhsh was supposed to teach at Columbia University this fall. But he’s been detained in an Iranian prison since the summer, when he was arrested in the aftermath of Iran’s presidential elections. In October, Tajbakhsh was sentenced to 15 years in jail. Now friends, family and fellow academics are calling for his release. NPR’s Jacki Lyden has this profile.

SCOTT SIMON, host: We now turn to human rights in Iran, which has been holding thousands of people since the June 12th election, including an Iranian-American, a 47-year-old Columbia University scholar who was sentenced to 15 years in prison for espionage. This week, NPR’s Jacki Lyden spoke to people close to him.

JACKI LYDEN: Right now, Kian Tajbakhsh should be wrapping up his first term teaching at Columbia’s School for Architecture, Preservation and Planning. He was to begin earlier this year on the eighth of September. Instead, the school’s dean, Mark Wigley, spoke out about the imprisoned scholar.

Mr. MARK WIGLEY (Dean, Columbia University): In fact, he was due to start teaching this very day. It is therefore extremely painful to see him arrested and imprisoned.

LYDEN: It would’ve been a great reunion. Tajbakhsh earned his Ph.D. at Columbia more than 15 years ago, as his mother, Farideh Gueramy, told us on the phone from Tehran.

Ms. FARIDEH GUERAMY: One could say that he became a New Yorker. He would enjoy the culture there. He would enjoy Woody Allen movies and we would talk about all the different diversity, diverse group in New York City.

LYDEN: In 1998, Kian Tajbakhsh returned to Iran for the first time in 20 years. His mother had brought him to the U.S. when he was a four-year-old.

Ms. GUERAMY: My son, most of the time, would criticize me that I brought him out of Iran when he was young, four years old, and I deprived him from his language, his culture. And he always wanted to go back to Iran. He loved Iran, he loved the Persian language and he loved the poetry, he loved Persian music, and he had start actually teaching himself the language.

LYDEN: Kian Tajbakhsh moved back to Iran in October of 2001. He married and had a daughter. What he saw as an era of openness was in fact the beginning of the end of the kind of expanded civil society that Iranians had been enjoying in a reform era. After the 2005 election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, liberty began to vanish. Paranoia crept in.

In 2007, Kian Tajbakhsh was arrested for the first time. At Evin Prison, he discovered he wasn’t the only Iranian-American scholar there. Haleh Esfandiari, director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, was there too.

Ms. ESFANDIARI: They would take us together for interrogation. He usually would walk ahead of me and we were both blindfolded. So when the interrogator would refer to him as Mr. Doctor – (foreign language spoken) – so I knew that Kian was walking ahead of me down the stairs being blindfolded, and I would look down and see his slippers.

LYDEN: After her release, Haleh Esfandiari left Iran and wrote a book, “My Prison, My Home.” But Kian Tajbakhsh stayed on, writing about urban planning. Then came the presidential election of June 12th, 2009. It changed everything for Iranians. After the mass protest following the disputed election, thousands were rounded up and sent to prison.

Kian Tajbakhsh was arrested a second time, on July the 9th, and he found himself accused, says Haleh Esfandiari, by a government determined to cast him as a part of a velvet revolution.

Ms. ESFANDIARI: I know that they had convinced themselves that there is a plot through soft means to overthrow the regime. And the moment they saw the Green movement, members of the Green movement in the streets of Tehran, it reminded them of the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine, the Rose Revolution in Georgia. And they thought that’s it, so therefore we have to once and for all try and stop it.

Little did they know that this was an indigenous movement. When the people came out into the street, all they wanted – they didn’t want an overthrow of the regime on June 13th or 14th. They wanted their votes to be counted. And then gradually, you know, it turned into this mass movement which they can’t even contain today.

LYDEN: Last summer, Tajbakhsh was put on trial along with a hundred others. He was sentenced in October to 15 years in prison, and in November, he was hit with still more charges. His lawyer, Massoud Shafie, spent an hour and a half with Kian at the prison on Thursday and has seen his file. He says it contains video clips of public demonstrations that Tajbakhsh allegedly emailed. The lawyer says that’s certainly not espionage and that the charges against his client are baseless.

Mr. MASSOUD SHAFIE (Attorney): (Through translator) I have reviewed the file in detail. I believe from a legal standpoint there’s no correlation between the evidence in his file and the conviction and sentencing.

LYDEN: Still, Kian’s mother, Farideh Gueramy, says she’s optimistic that this will be over soon. Yet another irony: Kian Tajbakhsh is affiliated with Columbia University, the very institution that took so much heat over inviting a controversial guest to speak there in 2007. That was Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of Iran.

Now, students and professors are focusing their petitions, speeches and videos on their colleague.

Mr. MARK WIGLEY: I therefore respectfully but passionately urge that Kian Tajbakhsh should be released and returned to his academic community here at Columbia University.

LYDEN: And they have vowed to keep his name before the public.

Jacki Lyden, NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

SIMON: To learn more…go to our Web site, NPR.org/soapbox.

You’re listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News.”

[Full transcript]

وکیل کیان تاجبخش: در پرونده هیچ مستند جاسوسی وجود ندارد

By , December 16, 2009 9:48 am

۲۳ آذر ماه ۱۳۸۸ - کمپین بین المللی حقوق بشر در ایران پس از مصاحبه با مسعود شفیعی؛ وکیل تاجبخش، اعلام کرد که پرونده کیان تاجبخش؛ جامعه شناس ایرانی – آمریکایی فاقد هر گونه مستندی در اثبات ادعاهای وارده علیه وی است.

کیان تاجبخش  در دادگاه بدوی به ۱۵ سال زندان به اتهام جاسوسی و اقدام علیه امنیت ملی محکوم شد و در حال حاضرپرونده وی در مرحله تجدید نظر است. دادرسی کیان تاجبخش بخاطر نقض گسترده آئین دادرسی قوانین ایران و معیارهای بین المللی اساسا فاقد اعتبار است.

مسعود شفیعی؛ وکیل کیان تاجبخش اخیرا موفق شد که کل پرونده وی را مطالعه کند. آنچه که مشهود است عدم تناسب بین مستندات پرونده و حکم صادره علیه تاجبخش است، در ضمن اینکه خود پرونده ماهیت آشکارا سیاسی و خودسرانه دارد. جاسوسی آنگونه که بوضوح در قوانین ایران تعریف شده به این معناست که جرم جاسوسی زمانی اتفاق می افتد که اسناد کاملا محرمانه تحویل گرفته شود و به دولت خارجی تحویل داده شود. در حالیکه در پرونده به وجود چنین اسنادی ارجاع داده نشده است.

پرونده ای که اخیرا آقای شفیعی مطالعه کرده دربرگیرنده تصاویری از تظاهرات اخیر است که توسط کیان تاجبخش  ایمیل شده است. این تصاویر اساسا اسناد طبقه بندی شده یا محرمانه دولتی تلقی نمی شوند. کیان تاجبخش به اسناد محرمانه در هیچ مرحله ای به هیچوجه دسترسی نداشته است.

آقای شفیعی بطور دائم از ملاقات با موکل خود محروم شده است. با وجود آنکه وی پس از مطالعه پرونده، ازدادگاه انقلاب شعبه ۵۴ که مسئول رسیدگی به تقاضای تجدید نظر پرونده کیان است، اجازه ملاقات با وی را دریافت کرد تا لایحه دفاعیه را با موکل خود نهایی کند، اما در روز ۲۰ آذرماه، مسئولین زندان اوین به او اجازه ملاقات ندادند و از او اجازه قاضی صلواتی را خواستند که مسئول شعبه ۱۵ دادگاه انقلاب است. در حالیکه قاضی صلواتی بعنوان قاضی مسئول دادگاه بدوی حکم تاجبخش را صادر کرده و در این مرحله از دادرسی فارغ از رسیدگی است.

مسئولین بند الف ۲ زندان اوین که تحت مدیریت سپاه پاسداران است، به مسعود شفیعی اجازه ملاقات ندادند. لایحه دفاعیه  به زودی باید تقدیم دادگاه تجدید نظر شود در حالیکه از نظر اصولی قبل از ارائه لایحه، وکیل باید با موکل ملاقات کند، مطالب رسیده به وکیل براساس تماس های هر از چند گاه تلفنی کیان تاجبخش و یا پیام هایی است که از طریق خانواده در ملاقات ها منتقل شده اند.

بسیاری از موارد آئین دادرسی در این پرونده نقض شده است. از نظر شکلی نگهداری متهم در بازداشت موقت نقض ماده ۱۸۲ و همچنین ماده ۳۷ آئین دادرسی کیفری است. طبق قوانین ایران، کیان تاجبخش باید پس از تحقیقات مقدماتی به قید وثیقه آزاد می شد. در پرونده کیان تاجبخش ذکر شده است که  قاضی صلواتی دستور آزادی به قید وثیقه صادر کرد اما تاجبخش آن را نپذیرفت و خواست که به زندان برود، در حالیکه این مورد کاملا کذب است.

یکی دیگر از موارد نقض قوانین در این پرونده این است که طبق اصل ۱۳۹ قانون اساسی و ماده ۱۸۸ آئین دادرسی کیفری، تا زمانی که اتهامات متهم توسط دادگاه ثابت نشده، نباید از او اسمی برده شود، در حالیکه اتهامات مطرح شده توسط دادستان علیه تاجبخش بطورعمومی قبل از اثبات دادگاه منتشر و دادگاه او مستقیم از تلویزیون پخش شد.

اتهامات وارده علیه کیان تاجبخش، کاملا بی اساس هستند برای اینکه هیچ اقدام مجرمانه ای صورت نگرفته است. طبق ماده ۲ قانون مجازات اسلامی هر اقدامی که بعنوان اقدام مجرمانه تعریف نشده باشد، نمی تواند مبنای اتهامات مجرمانه قرار بگیرد.به گفته آقای شفیعی، اقدامی که تاجبخش بر اساس آن متهم شده شغل او بعنوان مشاور جامعه باز است که این عمل بعنوان یک اقدام مجرمانه تعریف نشده است.

درکیفرخواست صادره علیه کیان تاجبخش، در واقع خدمات وی بعنوان مشاور موسسه جامعه باز، آشوبگرانه تشریح شده است. موسسه جامعه باز یک بنیاد بین المللی است که به کشورهای در حال توسعه  انواعی از کمک های بشردوستانه ارائه می کند. به گفته وکیل کیان تاجبخش، فعالیت های این موسسه در ایران در توافقی با دولت جمهوری اسلامی ایران در قالب یک موافقتنامه ای که در آن انواع فعالیت ها ذکر شده است، صورت گرفته است، و هیچ فعالیتی بدون توافق مقامات جمهوری اسلامی ایران توسط کیان تاجبخش با موسسه جامعه باز انجام نشده است. علاوه بر آن، مشاورت کیان تاجبخش با موسسه جامعه باز در سال ۱۳۸۶؛ قبل از ماجرای انتخابات اخیر به اتمام رسیده بود.

کیفرخواست همچنین برمبنای اشتباهات فاحشی تنظیم شده است که آن را از اعتبار ساقط می کند. از میان آنها می توان برای نمونه به این ادعا اشاره کرد که در کیفرخواست اشاره شده است که متهم در تظاهرات غیر قانونی و در حین ارتکاب جرم بازداشت شده است، در حالی که کیان تاجبخش در منزل خود در ساعت ۹ شب در حضور همسرش بازداشت شد.

کمپین بین المللی حقوق بشرمجددا اعتراض خود را  به قوه قضائیه در مورد پرونده کیان تاجبخش ابراز کرده و خواستار بازبینی پرونده وی است چرا که این پرونده با نقض متعدد قانونی و اتهاماتی با منشا سیاسی تشکیل شده و آن را فاقد اعتبار کرده است. همچنین این کمپین خواستاربازپس گیری همه اتهامات از کیان تاجبخش و بازگرداندن وی به آغوش خانواده و محیط دانشگاهی است.

[Link to Persian article]

Interview: Imprisoned Iranian-American’s Mother Describes His Postelection Plight (Source: RFE/RL)

By , December 14, 2009 4:17 pm

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty correspondent Golnaz Esfandiari has published an interview with Kian’s mother, which also aired in Persian on Radio Farda. BBC Persian and Voice of America have broadcast similar interviews in recent days with both Kian’s mother and his lawyer, Masoud Safie:

“Iranian-American scholar Kian Tajbakhsh was arrested and put on trial in the course of the crackdown that followed mass protests over the results of Iran’s June presidential election…

RFE/RL: When was the last time you were able to visit your son, Kian Tajbakhsh, in prison?

Farideh Gerami: I visited my son at Evin prison on Thursday [December 10], along with his wife and daughter Hasti, who is about two [years] old.

RFE/RL: How is your son doing in prison and what conditions is he dealing with? He was among those arrested shortly after the disputed June 12 vote.

Gerami: [Kian Tajbaksh] was arrested three [weeks] after the election; it’s been five months that he’s being held in solitary confinement at Evin prison.

Spending five months in solitary confinement is extremely difficult. Psychologically he is strong because he is innocent and he hasn’t done anything wrong and he’s confident that his situation will be [resolved]; his case is transparent.

But physically he’s lost weight, and as a mother I can see that he’s [aged]. I feel he’s under pressure.

Of course, in order to comfort us, he always tells us that he’s doing fine, that we shouldn’t worry. But I’m really worried about him. You can imagine what happens when you hold anyone in solitary confinement for five months.

RFE/RL: What is your reaction to the 15-year prison sentence your son received after being charged with “soft overthrow” and similar charges. It’s one of the heaviest prison sentences issued for those arrested in the postelection crackdown.

Gerami: First of all, I have to say that when I returned to Iran two months ago [from New York] it was the birthday of my granddaughter, who is Kian’s only child. We all thought — we strongly believed — that my son would be released for the birthday of his daughter. Not only wasn’t he released, but the week after they issued the 15-year prison sentence not only us, I mean the family, but also [Kian] himself, we’re all astonished, we’re shocked, we don’t understand why such a sentence has been handed down.

He’s a scholar, he didn’t participate and wasn’t involved in the postelection events. He was under the watch of the Intelligence Ministry; all his actions were being monitored by the Intelligence Ministry. I would call him from New York and tell him not to go out, don’t take part in the unrest. He would tell me: “Mother, be sure, we’re fine, there isn’t any problem. My case is transparent and I’m being monitored.’

All the officials knew that he didn’t leave his house [during the postelection unrest]. Even if he had to go out to visit some friends, he would make sure to change his route to avoid [antigovernment] demonstrations. Therefore, when the sentence was issued we were all astonished; he was stunned. When [the authorities] informed him about the 15-year prison sentence, he was about to go crazy. He couldn’t believe something like this would happen.

We’re very, very concerned and I know for sure that my son is innocent; he knows he’s innocent, he hasn’t done anything [wrong]. He and his family were supposed to come to New York in early September and he was supposed to work at Columbia University, from which he graduated, and now we’re unfortunately stuck in this issue.

Political Case

RFE/RL: What do you think is the reason behind this heavy sentence? Kian Tajbakhsh was also jailed in [2007]. Why do you think he has faced so much pressure?

Gerami: This is my opinion, and it might not be correct, but I think it’s a political decision because my son is Iranian-American. He has dual nationality and this is a political [case].

RFE/RL: What do you think the United States can do in his case, the U.S. and the international community?

Gerami: So far, human rights groups in the U.S. and elsewhere — his friends and colleagues at Columbia University — have done what they could. They have sent letters to the Supreme Leader [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei]. They’ve sent letters to government officials. I myself have written to [Iranian President ] Mahmud Ahmadinejad and I was told that he received the letter.

[S]ome things have happened and I really hope that this issue will be resolved soon. My son’s case is now being reviewed by an appeals court. I really hope that the appeals court comes to the conclusion that the charges against him are baseless and he will be acquitted and allowed to come home as soon as possible.

I would just like to add that his daughter misses her father very much and is very impatient. We’re under a lot of pressure, a lot.”

[Link to article]
[Article in Persian]

Time to speak out on Iran (Source: Philadelphia Inquirer)

By , December 11, 2009 6:56 am

An article published in the Philadelphia Inquirer mentions Kian’s case:

“…Iran’s opposition “green” movement – which started as a protest against election fraud – has grown into a much broader civil rights movement. Monday’s demonstrations – documented on YouTube despite the regime’s media ban – showed that Iranians both young and old are increasingly inflamed by the government’s brutality toward its own people.

So why is President Obama so quiet about Iran’s human rights abuses?

Yes, U.S. officials have raised the case of three American hikers imprisoned after straying across the border in Iraqi Kurdistan. And they have protested the jailing of Iranian American scholar Kian Tajbakhsh. But the White House has been noticeably reluctant to raise wider human rights concerns with Tehran.

The administration seems to fear that criticism of Tehran’s human rights violations would impede talks on curbing Iran’s nuclear program. But those talks have stalled since Iran backed off a promising compromise proposal. The impasse is linked to Iran’s repression of human rights.

Iran is going through an internal power struggle that is far from over and has paralyzed its domestic politics. This will make it extremely difficult to do a deal with Tehran in the near term.

The heart of the problem: The hard-line core of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard military force wants to consolidate power and crush any political opposition. The Revolutionary Guards, who are directing the crackdown in the country, resisted a compromise on the Iranian nuclear program (even though their man, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, seemed to endorse it).

“They want to put the country on a war footing,” said Hadi Ghaemi, coordinator of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, “because they see this as the easiest way for them to consolidate power inside Iran.” So, says Ghaemi, there is no point in our keeping mum on Iran’s crackdown on its growing civil rights movement: “The Obama administration has to recognize that the Iranian protest movement is an undeniable reality that is not going way.”

Ghaemi and other Iran experts stress that Obama should take an approach different from the Bush administration’s. The latter linked support for the Iranian opposition to calls for “regime change” and provided funds for regime opponents. This gave Tehran a handy excuse to brand all Iranian civil-society groups as spies.

Rather than offer material support, says Ghaemi, Obama should be a moral voice. He should hold Iran to account at the United Nations for international conventions it has signed calling for freedom of expression and assembly…”

[Full Article]

New spy charge against jailed Iranian-American (Source: Associated Press)

By , November 27, 2009 5:15 pm

The AP has published the following piece about the latest disturbing developments in Kian’s case:

“CAIRO — Iran brought new espionage charges against an Iranian-American scholar who was already convicted of spying and sentenced to 15 years in prison in the country’s crackdown following June’s disputed presidential election, a human rights group said Thursday.

The new charges raise the possibility of a harsher penalty against Kian Tajbakhsh, a 47-year-old scholar who was in Iran working on a book when he was arrested at his home nearly five months ago amid security forces’ postelection sweep against the opposition.

Tajbakhsh was among more than 100 people — most of them opposition activists and protesters — brought before a court in a mass trial criticized by the opposition and rights groups as a show trial.

He was sentenced by a branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Court last month to 15 years in prison after being convicted of espionage and endangering state security. It is the harshest prison term handed down so far by the court. His family has denied the charges against Tajbakhsh.

Earlier this week, Tajbakhsh was brought before another branch of the Revolutionary Court that the elite Revolutionary Guard military corps has used to pursue dissidents, and he was charged with additional counts of espionage, the New York-based International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said in a statement.

The charges had been brought by the Guard, a member of Tajbakhsh’s family said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation. The Guard has spearheaded the crackdown against pro-reform politicians, activists and protesters, accusing them of plotting a Western-backed “velvet revolution” against Iran’s clerical-led Islamic Republic.

Tajbakhsh, a social scientist and urban planner, was the only American detained in the crackdown that crushed giant street protests by hundreds of thousands of people after the June 12 election. The opposition claims the vote was rigged in favor of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had called for his release. Initially, Tajbakhsh’s lawyer said he was sentenced to “at least 12 years” in the initial conviction, but it has since been confirmed to be 15 years…”

[Full article]

Call for Letters (Source: Scholars at Risk Network)

By , November 16, 2009 9:53 am

The Scholars at Risk Network, an international network of universities and colleges promoting academic freedom and defending the human rights of scholars and their communities worldwide, has issued a letter-writing appeal for Kian’s release:

“SAR is gravely concerned about reports indicating that Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh, a respected international scholar and researcher, has been arrested, convicted and sentenced to over 12 years in prison… Dr. Tajbakhsh’s arrest, conviction and holding in solitary confinement raise grave concerns for his well-bring. The suddenness of Dr. Tajbakhsh’s arrest and the lack of any clear basis for his detention and conviction raise grave concerns about the ability of internationally recognized scholars and intellectuals to safely visit Iran…

Scholars at Risk therefore joins with the many national and international academic associations, scholarly societies, human rights organizations and individual scholars that respectfully urge the Iranian government to examine the circumstances of Dr. Tajbakhsh’s arrest and conviction.”

[Full appeal]

Cruel, Pointless Games (Source: New York Times)

By , November 16, 2009 9:46 am

The editors of the New York Times have called for the release of Kian and the three American hikers reportedly charged with espionage:

“…The hikers’ case is only the latest example of the Iranian government misusing and undermining its judiciary for political ends.

Scores of protesters and journalists were jailed after major demonstrations over June’s fraudulent presidential elections. Last month, an Iranian court convicted Kian Tajbakhsh, an Iranian-American scholar, of fomenting antigovernment unrest and sentenced him to [12 to] 15 years in prison…

Iran has a right to lock up legitimate criminals if they are tried fairly. But the spectacle of three Americans subjected to a show trial will make it even less likely that the world will give Iran the respect it insists it deserves — or even a serious hearing…”

[Full editorial]

In Evin Prison (Source: Huffington Post); Iran’s Harshest Sentence for an Innocent Scholar (Source: New York Review of Books); Iran Sentences Academic Linked to Protests (Source: National Public Radio)

By , November 16, 2009 9:43 am

Iranian American scholar Haleh Esfandiari, who served in Evin prison at the same time as Kian in 2007, has been featured recently speaking about Kian’s rearrest as she discusses her newly published book, My Prison, My Home: One Woman’s Story of Captivity in Iran:

In a review of My Prison, My Home, Claire Messud notes in Huffington Post

“…[Not losing one's grip on reality] is the struggle for any prisoner in such a situation; but it is also the struggle for the Iranian people at large: How not to succumb to the regime’s view of the world? Theirs is a society of constant contradictions, of mirrors and masks, of both authority and a theater of authority, to which they must subscribe. They, too, are terrorized by prolonged uncertainty, never knowing the limits of what is allowed–can women show their hair in public this month without fear of arrest? Can weddings allow dancing in private homes this year, or will the morals police break down the door? Can the press question the regime this week, or will the newspapers be shut down? Can you demonstrate freely today, or might you be arrested, tortured, and killed? …”

On Kian’s arrest in he New York Review of Books blog :

“…The [show] trial has been a travesty of justice. The initial indictment was directed against everyone at once. There were only three sessions. Some of the accused were paraded before television cameras to make coerced confessions. (Kian made a statement too; he said that the US and Europe desired to bring about change in Iran, but that he had no knowledge of a plot). Kian did not even get to choose his own lawyer and had to make do with a government-appointed one, who said he will appeal.

The trial is further evidence that some of the most hard-line elements in the Intelligence Ministry and the Revolutionary Guards are now setting domestic policy. They have used the trial to attempt, yet again, to persuade an ever-skeptical Iranian public that the Islamic Republic is indeed in grave danger of a “soft overthrow” plotted by England and America, to settle scores with their political adversaries, and to rid themselves, once and for all, of the reformers and moderates in their midst. The irony is that Kian was within two weeks of leaving for the US to take up a long-standing invitation to teach at Columbia University…”

On National Public Radio :

“…I never believed that they would arrest [Kian] and charge him with the same accusations that they had leveled against him and against me in prison because I knew that Kian was keeping a low profile and he was not a member of the reformist movement. He was not part of any political activity or party. And he was just leading a very quiet life, translating books and writing books…”

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