Posts tagged: Maziar Bahari

Groups join forces, urge Iran to free journalists (Source: Committee to Protect Journalists)

By , February 12, 2010 10:36 am

An international coalition of prominent human rights organizations have joined together in an effort to raise awareness about and help secure the releases of journalists and writers imprisoned in Iran, including Kian:

“February 11, 2010, New York—A coalition of leading international journalists’, writers’, and publishers’ organizations today launched a campaign to press the government of Iran to release their colleagues imprisoned in the wake of last year’s disputed presidential election CPJ, PEN, Reporters Sans Frontières, Index on Censorship, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, and the International Publishers Association have joined forces for the campaign out of what the groups have called “a sense of shared, urgent concern for the welfare of journalists, writers, and bloggers and a profound alarm over the situation for free expression in Iran.”

The “Our Society Will Be a Free Society” campaign, named for a pledge the Ayatollah Khomenei made during the 1979 Iranian revolution to protect freedom of expression and the press, kicks off on the 31st anniversary of the revolution and four days before the UN Human Rights Council convenes in Geneva to review Iran’s human rights record. In an open letter released today, the coalition called on Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to honor the original spirit of the Iranian revolution and order the release of at least 60 writers, journalists, and bloggers currently in prison in Iran in apparent violation of their right to freedom of expression…

The list of writers, journalists, and bloggers currently in prison in Iran includes some of Iran’s most distinguished journalists, some of the country’s leading bloggers, and Kian Tajbakhsh, an Iranian-American scholar and social planner who was sentenced in August 2009 to 15 years in prison following a mass trial of 140 activists, intellectuals, and writers accused of fomenting a “velvet revolution.” Among the journalists are Emadeddin Baghi, also a well known author and human rights defender; Mashallah Shamsolvaezin, an award-winning editor and press freedom advocate; and Shiva Nazar Ahari, a human rights journalist who has been jailed twice in the last eight months. The Committee to Protect Journalists this month announced that the 47 journalists now in prison in Iran are more than any other country on earth has imprisoned at any one time since 1996.

“Despite mass arrests, forced confessions, harassment and intimidation, journalists are still working,” said Committee to Protect Journalists Chairman Paul Steiger. “We must send these courageous men and women, and the nearly 50 journalists currently behind bars, a clear message of support. Iran is now the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. President Ahmadinejad should be ashamed of this fact and release our colleagues immediately.”

The coalition is not only addressing the government of Iran, but also urging world leaders to apply pressure on Iran to release all those who are in prison simply for exercising their right to freedom of expression.

“Next week, the Human Rights Council of the United Nations meets to examine Iran’s human rights record,” said Marian Botsford Fraser, Chair of the Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN. “In its own submission to the Council, the government of Iran points out that its constitution protects basic human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression, the freedom to assembly peacefully, and freedom from arbitrary arrests”

“And yet,” Fraser continued, “Despite these protections, the Human Rights council has before it more than 200 reports documenting the arbitrary arrests, incommunicado detentions, and torture, often for the purposes of extracting false confessions, of intellectuals, students, artists, human rights defenders, journalists, and others after the disputed presidential elections last year. We implore the members of the Council to question Iran carefully on its human rights performance, and especially on the fate of at least 60 writers, journalists, and bloggers currently in prison in that country.”

“Arresting journalists and writers is wrong and counterproductive at the same time,” [journalist and former Evin prison detainee] Maziar Bahari said today. “It is illegal even according to Iranian laws, and the Iranian government is actually undermining its own authority by arresting journalists. In Iran, journalists have always reflected people’s frustration with the government. By denying people of a peaceful way to vent their anger the government of Iran is forcing people to act out their anger on the streets,” he concluded.

The “Our Society Will Be A Free Society” campaign is a joint initiative of The Committee to Protect Journalists, International PEN and PEN American Center and English PEN, Reporters Sans Frontières, Index on Censorship, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, and the International Publishers Association. The campaign will run through March 20, 2010, the Iranian New Year, with events aimed at building pressure for the release of writers and journalists in prison in Iran continuing in North America and Europe through the spring.”

[Link to statement]

Iran puts 16 protesters on trial (Source: Associated Press)

By , January 31, 2010 7:11 am

AP writer Nasser Karimi mentioned Kian in his summary of Iran’s latest show trial:

“TEHRAN – Iran put 16 opposition supporters detained during anti-government protests last month on trial Saturday on charges of rioting and conspiring against the ruling system, Iran’s state media reported…

The new prosecutions, coupled with the execution on Thursday of two men accused of involvement in anti-government groups, could mark an attempt by Iran’s hardline leaders to intimidate the opposition ahead of a new round of street demonstrations expected in February…

The protesters have presented Iran’s cleric-led establishment with its biggest challenge since the 1979 revolution despite a brutal crackdown that has left hundreds imprisoned…

During previous mass trials in Iran, many human rights groups have cautioned that..confessions are often made under duress in Iran…

Iran’s hardline government has quashed opposition rallies and tried more than 100 political activists since August, sentencing 11 people to death and more than 80 people to prison terms ranging from six months to 15 years…

Iran held its first postelection mass trial in August, accusing more than 100 activists of plotting to overthrow the regime. Those prosecutions brought charges against some prominent reformist opposition politicians, including former Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi, former government spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh and the leader of the biggest reformist party, the Islamic Iran Participation Front, Mohsen Mirdamadi.

There were also three foreign citizens — Iranian-American scholar Kian Tajbakhsh, Newsweek reporter Maziar Bahari, who holds Iranian and Canadian citizenship, and a 24-year-old French academic, Clotilde Reiss — among those on trial. Bahari has since been released on bail and has left the country.

Despite the crackdown, opposition activists have continued to hold sporadic, large street rallies. The opposition says Ahmadinejad’s victory in the June election was fraudulent and call for his removal — though some in the movement have expanded to criticize Iran’s clerical leadership.”

[Link to full article]

International PEN marks Day of the Imprisoned Writer (Source: RFE/RL)

By , November 16, 2009 9:50 am

In an interview with Radio Free Europe, Sara Wyatt, the director of the writers in prison committee at the worldwide association of writers International PEN, speaks about Kian’s case on the occasion of the Day of the Imprisoned Writer:

“The rights and prison committee of International PEN will be 50 years old next year, and I would say that during most of this time PEN has been concerned about writers in Iran, be it those detained under the Shah or post revolution…

And today there are at least eight writers and journalists in prison and many more are on trial or on bail, others have been conditionally released on health and humanitarian grounds. Sometimes they’ve been in this state of limbo for many, many years with the threat of being re-imprisoned if they once again speak out or commit the original so-called crimes…

One of the five cases that we’re looking at this year is that of Maziar Bahari, an Iranian writer who was among the 100 who were arrested in June this year for their involvement in the demonstrations, protesting the outcome of the presidential election. He’s relatively lucky because he was actually freed last month on an enormous bail of 300,000 pounds and has been allowed to leave the country pending trial to be present at the birth of his child.

But others have not been so lucky; and there have been a series of unfair trials in recent weeks, some of which have resulted in huge sentences, among them is the Iranian-American scholar Kian Tajbakhsh, who got 12 years in prison. We’re deeply concerned about that.”

[Full interview]

More Iranian Injustice (Source: New York Times)

By , October 24, 2009 9:37 am

The editors of The New York Times have joined the chorus of other major newspapers decrying Kian’s sentencing:

“The journalist Maziar Bahari joined his pregnant wife in London this week after being freed from an Iranian prison where he had been held for five months. That is welcome news, but it would be a mistake to think that the mullahs who run the government had been seized with humanitarian spirit. If anything, they seem more determined to shift the blame for the unrest that followed the fraudulent June 12 election to America and other “foreigners.”

The Iranian-American scholar Kian Tajbakhsh, an urban planner with a doctorate from Columbia University, was arrested in July. He was prosecuted with more than 100 other defendants in show trials after the election sparked the biggest challenge to the Islamic republic since the 1979 revolution.

An Iranian court on Sunday convicted him of fomenting unrest against the government and sentenced him to 15 years in prison… We hope this outrageous verdict is reversed on appeal. Indeed, Tehran may be using him as a pawn for negotiations with the United States on its nuclear program. But the new judiciary chief, Sadeq Larijani, will fail if he cannot direct a judiciary that is fair and consistent.

The mullahs are twisting themselves into knots trying to prove that outside forces are at work when they are facing homegrown outrage over their increasingly autocratic state. They also think they can solve the crisis with force, despite the extent of internal dissent and the refusal of many elites to condone the crackdown.

On Friday, a leading opposition leader, Mehdi Karroubi, was attacked at a media fair. One day earlier, authorities stormed a prayer service at a private home and arrested 60 reformists. Many Iranians detained after the election protests linger in prison without charges. Two weeks ago, authorities sentenced four to death sentences.

Since July 31, Iran has been holding three American hikers who were seized along the Iran-Iraq border. Robert Levinson, a former F.B.I. agent has been missing since 2007. These victims of Iran’s autocratic leaders must be released. Iran may sit at the negotiating table with the United States and other world powers, but it will never earn the respect it craves if it continues these kinds of human rights abuses.”

[Link to editorial]

Iranian-American Stunned by Sentence (Source: New York Times)

By , October 22, 2009 9:34 am

Nazila Fathi spoke with Kian’s family about his circumstances in prison, general well-being and reaction to his sentencing:

“When Kian Tajbakhsh went before a judge in Tehran on Sunday he had several reasons to think he would be released. Instead, to his utter shock, he was given a 15-year prison term.

Since being detained in July, Mr. Tajbakhsh, an Iranian-American scholar, had been permitted two home visits, the last on Oct. 15, when he appeared hopeful that he would be released soon, a family member said. He said he had been transferred recently to a villa on the compound of the Evin prison, a sign of leniency that he thought suggested his release was imminent.

Mr. Tajbakhsh, an urban planner with a doctorate from Columbia University, was arrested in protests that rocked Iran after the election on June 12, in which President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claimed an overwhelming victory.

Mr. Tajbakhsh told his wife about the sentence on Monday in a telephone call, said the family member, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of complicating Mr. Tajbakhsh’s case.

He was sentenced on charges of working as a consultant for the Open Society Institute, a democracy-building group, which the indictment identified as a C.I.A. satellite institution. He was also charged with belonging to the Gulf/2000 Project, an e-mail list of scholars, journalists, diplomats and businessmen with interests in the Persian Gulf region. He has the right to appeal.

But the harsh sentence surprised Mr. Tajbakhsh, the relative said. In the past two weeks he had been moved from solitary confinement to the villa, and the depression and insomnia that he had suffered while in prison had improved significantly. The family member said Mr. Tajbakhsh’s morale was noticeably higher in the recent visit than during his first one in late September, when he was still in solitary confinement and subjected to long hours of interrogation.

At that point, “he was in an awful state and said he had to take tranquilizers to sleep,” the family member said.

“But he was much happier this time and was excited that he had a shower and could sleep on a bed for the first time in months,” the relative said. “He was very hopeful.”

Mr. Tajbakhsh shares the villa with four other high-profile prisoners, among them a former vice president, Mohammad Ali Abtahi, and Abdullah Ramezanzadeh, who was the government spokesman under President Mohammad Khatami.

On Saturday the authorities released another person with dual citizenship, Maziar Bahari, a Newsweek reporter and an independent filmmaker. But some experts believe the government wanted Mr. Tajbakhsh as a bargaining chip.

“The prison term seems to be a message to the American administration, saying that we can keep him if we want to,” said Mohsen Sazegara, the director of the Washington-based Research Institute for Contemporary Iran and an opposition figure who was jailed in Iran in 2003. “They want to use him in negotiations with the American administration.”

[Link to article]

Kian Tajbakhsh, Iranian-American Academic, Gets 12 Years for Election Unrest (Source: Associated Press)

By , October 20, 2009 12:18 pm

Media outlets around the world are reporting the shocking and disturbing news that Kian has been issued to a long prison sentence by a revolutionary court:

“TEHRAN, Iran — Iran ignored appeals by Hillary Rodham Clinton and even rock star Sting and sentenced an Iranian-American academic to 12 years in prison Tuesday for his alleged role in anti-government protests after the country’s disputed presidential election.

The sentence for Kian Tajbakhsh was the longest prison term yet in a mass trial of more than 100 opposition figures, activists and journalists in the postelection turmoil.

At the same time, Iran allowed another defendant to leave the country – Canadian-Iranian Maziar Bahari, a Newsweek journalist arrested in the same crackdown who had been freed on bail over the weekend.

Bahari joined his British wife, who is in the last days of her pregnancy, in London, Newsweek said on its Web site Tuesday. It was the first word that Bahari had left Iran…

Bahari’s release could be a concession by Iran to international pressure. But Tajbakhsh’s heavy sentence signaled that Tehran was sticking to a tough line overall on the political unrest. It came amid calls in Iran for the prosecution of the most senior opposition figure and suggestions that three American hikers, detained after accidentally crossing into Iran, could face charges.

Tajbakhsh, a social scientist and urban planner, was arrested by security forces at his Tehran home July 9 – 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.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Ian C. Kelly said Tajbakhsh should be released immediately, saying he poses no threat to the Iranian government or its national security.

Washington has repeatedly denounced his arrest. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton appealed in August for his release, and he was specially named in a call by the British rock star Sting to free all political prisoners in Iran.

“Family and friends of Iranian-American detainee Kian Tajbakhsh are shocked and outraged by the news,” said Pam Kilpadi, a friend of Tajbakhsh who is working on a book with him. She described the charges as “baffling.”

“As an independent scholar Kian is neither a member of the Iranian reformist movement nor in contact with any foreign headquarters inside or outside Iran, and has had no involvement in pre- or postelection unrest,” said Kilpadi, a doctoral researcher at Britain’s University of Bristol currently based in Cambridge, Mass.

Tajbakhsh’s lawyer, Houshang Azhari, told the official IRNA news agency that he would appeal the conviction on charges of “acting against national security.” He said the law prohibited him from divulging the full details of the sentence and would only say it was “more than 12 years.”

The appeal could open an avenue for freeing Tajbakhsh. An Iranian-American journalist who was arrested this year, Roxana Saberi, was convicted of espionage but freed on appeal in what was widely seen as a political decision to defuse tensions with Washington.

Tajbakhsh, 47, had been targeted by Iranian authorities before. In 2007, he was arrested on similar charges while working for the Open Society Institution, a pro-democracy organization run by American philanthropist George Soros – a figure Iran has often cited as part of the anti-government plot. He denied the charges and was released after four months in prison.

Afterward, Tajbakhsh left the Open Society Institution and remained with his family in Iran, working on a book.

Weeks after his arrest in July, Tajbakhsh appeared in the mass trial of opposition figures. Many of the defendants delivered courtroom confessions to a plot to topple the government – admissions that opposition groups said were forced from them.

At his turn to speak during an Aug. 25 court session, Tajbakhsh appeared to try to speak only vaguely about foreign interference in Iran, saying that “undeniably this was a goal of the U.S. and European countries to bring change inside Iran” – although he said he had no direct knowledge of any plot.

The court has issued convictions against a few Iranian opposition figures, sentencing them to five or six years – all far shorter than Tajbakhsh’s, although three others accused of belonging to what Iran considers terrorist groups were sentenced to death.

“It’s obviously completely politically motivated,” said Arien Mack, a psychology professor at The New School in New York City, where Tajbakhsh taught urban policy until 2001. She said that since his 2007 arrest, Tajbakhsh had focused on his academic work, avoiding politics.

“As far as I know, he did not even vote in the last election” in Iran, she said…”

[Full article]

An Alternative Nobel (Source: Wall Street Journal); Our Laureate: Neda of Iran (Source: Washington Post)How to Engage Iran (Source: Washington Post)

By , October 13, 2009 11:45 am

The editors of major U.S. newspapers are naming Iranian dissidents as their preferred choice for the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize and highlighting the tension between diplomacy and human rights advocacy currently impacting Kian and other Iranian political prisoners:

“Suppose this year’s Nobel Peace Prize had gone to the scores of Iranians now on trial for having protested the fraudulent re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last June. For the three defendants who were sentenced to death over the weekend, a Nobel might have made all the difference in the nick of time. At a minimum, it could have validated their struggle.

…the Obama Administration has downplayed human rights in Iran as it pursues a negotiated nuclear settlement with the Ahmadinejad government. Without explanation, the State Department this month pulled funding for the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, a New Haven, Connecticut outfit that has been investigating the plight of those Iranians now in the dock, including Iranian-American scholar Kian Tajbakhsh and Newsweek reporter Maziar Bahari.

In his Rose Garden remarks about the Nobel, President Obama spoke about “the young woman who marches silently in the streets on behalf of her right to be heard even in the face of beatings and bullets.” The elliptical reference is almost certainly to 27-year old Neda Agha-Sultan, whose murder last June by one of Ahmadinejad’s goon squads was captured on a video seen around the world. We hope the President keeps in mind that the same people whose good faith he now seeks in negotiations were her killers.”

[Full editorial]

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“IT’S AN ODD Nobel Peace Prize that almost makes you embarrassed for the honoree. In blessing President Obama, the Nobel Committee intended to boost what it called his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” A more suitable time for the prize would have been after those efforts had borne some fruit…

The Nobel Committee’s decision is especially puzzling given that a better alternative was readily apparent. This year, hundreds of thousands of ordinary people in Iran braved ferocious official violence to demand their right to vote and to speak freely. Dozens were killed, thousands imprisoned. One of those killed was a young woman named Neda Agha-Soltan; her shooting by thugs working for the Islamist theocracy, captured on video, moved the world. A posthumous award for Neda, as the avatar of a democratic movement in Iran, would have recognized the sacrifices that movement has made and encouraged its struggle in a dark hour. Democracy in Iran would not only set a people free, it would also dramatically improve the chances for world peace, since the regime that murdered her is pursuing nuclear weapons in defiance of the international community.

Announcing Friday that he would accept the award, Mr. Obama graciously offered to share it with “the young woman who marches silently in the streets on behalf of her right to be heard even in the face of beatings and bullets.” But the mere fact that he avoided mentioning either Neda’s name or her country, presumably out of consideration for the Iranian regime with which he is attempting to negotiate, showed the tension that sometimes exists between “diplomacy and cooperation between peoples” on the one hand, and advocacy of human rights on the other. The Nobel Committee could have spared Mr. Obama this dilemma if it had given Neda the award instead of him.”

[Full editorial]

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“SHIRIN EBADI, a 62-year-old Iranian lawyer who won the Nobel Peace Prize six years ago, is generally cautious and measured in her speech. She is a human rights lawyer who says that she does not involve herself in politics. She says that it’s not her job to favor one party over another, as long as the government respects people’s right to express themselves. So it was startling this week to hear Ms. Ebadi say bluntly that the Obama administration has gotten some things backward when it comes to Iran. It’s not that engaging with the government is a mistake, she said during a visit to The Post. But paying so much more attention to Iran’s nuclear ambitions than to its trampling of democracy and freedom is a mistake both tactical and moral…”

[Full editorial]

U.S. Presses Tehran to Free Two Detainees (Source: Wall Street Journal)

By , October 9, 2009 10:52 am

The Wall Street Journal has published a half-page feature by Farnaz Fassihi highlighting the cases of Kian and Maziar:

“The United States is asking that Iran immediately release two jailed foreign nationals even as it pursues talks over Tehran’s nuclear program, according to people familiar with the negotiations.

Families, colleagues and friends of the detainees have collected petitions signed by prominent figures and written letters to public officials as part of their far-reaching efforts to win the release of American-Iranian scholar Kian Tajbakhsh and Canadian-Iranian Newsweek journalist Maziar Bahari, who have been held captive by Iran for roughly three months.
The State Department says it pressed Iran on its human-rights record when representatives of the two countries sat at the negotiating table to discuss Iran’s nuclear program in Geneva last week. So far, Iran hasn’t taken any action.

The U.S. didn’t make the release of Mr. Tajbakhsh, 47 years old, and Mr. Bahari, 42, a condition for further negotiations on the nuclear matter. The U.S. used the opportunity of the face-to-face high-level meeting with Iran to appeal for their release on humanitarian grounds and as a measure of goodwill, the people familiar with the talks say.

Supporters of the two men hope the backdrop of the talks will aid their cause. “If Iran is trying to build trust with the rest of the world one good way to do it would be to release people like Maziar and Kian,” said Newsweek’s foreign editor Nisid Hajari.

The two men are the only foreign nationals arrested in relation to the recent unrest surrounding controversial presidential elections in June. Neither has a political affiliation in Iran.

Three young Americans have been detained since the end of July by Iran for illegally crossing the Iranian border during a hike in the Kurdish areas of northern Iraq. Iran allowed a representative of the Swiss Embassy to meet with the hikers last week.
Mr. Tajbakhsh and Mr. Bahari were arrested soon after the elections, on different days but under similar circumstances. Intelligence officials raided their homes in the middle of the night, confiscated their computers, documents and passports. The two men were taken to the notorious Evin prison, to the ward controlled by the intelligence unit of the Revolutionary Guards. They have had no access to legal counsel, and haven’t been charged or sentenced, according to their families.

Prisoners who have been released on bail recently from the same ward say they were blindfolded most of the day, beaten, psychologically tortured and interrogated for up to 12 hours at a time, often in the middle of the night.

Mr. Tajbakhsh and Mr. Bahari looked visibly thinner and haggard when they appeared in televised mass trials in August next to prominent opposition figures. Each delivered a confession detailing how, in their respective roles as academic and journalist, they had unwittingly participated in a plot by the West for a so-called soft revolution against Iran’s regime.

The court appearance was the first time their families had seen them since the arrests. Families and colleagues dismiss the confessions and say they were coerced.

Mr. Tajbakhsh’s two-year-old daughter, Hasti, ran to the television and kissed the screen as it showed him mumbling his confession, and his wife sobbed, according to family members. Mr. Tajbakhsh and his family were planning to move this fall from Tehran to New York, where he was scheduled to start teaching at Columbia University.

In London, Mr. Bahari’s wife, Paola Gourley, is eight months pregnant with the couple’s first child. She says her husband’s hollow eyes in court shocked her.

“Understanding the reality of where he is and what he is going through was heartbreaking,” says Ms. Gourley, a British lawyer. Since his court appearance, she says she has suffered serious pregnancy complications threatening her life and the baby’s and has been hospitalized twice. She says doctors tell her the problems are related to too much stress.

Messrs. Bahari and Tajbakhsh have recently been allowed occasional brief phone calls and visits with their families supervised by a prison guard.

Mr. Tajbakhsh holds a Ph.D. in urban planning from Columbia University, and grew up in London and New York. In 2001, Mr. Tajbakhsh returned to Iran to research a project about Iran’s government institutions. Mr. Tajbakhsh met and married his wife Bahar and settled in Tehran. He was arrested and imprisoned for four months in 2007.

Mr. Bahari, who studied in Canada, divides his time between London and Tehran. He has been Newsweek’s Iran correspondent since 1998 and has made a series of award-winning documentary films. Mr. Bahari was a finalist for the prestigious Prince of Asturias Award for Concord in 2009, for his coverage of Iran.

[Full article]

Joint US-Canada statement on Kian and other Americans and Canadians detained in Iran (Source: US State Department)

By , September 26, 2009 4:05 pm

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon issued a joint statement calling on Iran to safely and rapidly return Kian and all detained and missing foreign citizens to their respective countries:

“Canada and the United States are deeply concerned about the continued detention of Canadian and American citizens, including dual nationals, inside Iran and once again urge Iran’s leadership to positively resolve these cases as a humanitarian gesture and in accordance with their obligations under international conventions. Individuals in detention include Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari; Iranian-American scholar Kian Tajbakhsh; retired Iranian-American businessman Reza Taghavi; and American hikers Joshua Fattal, Shane Bauer, and Sarah Shourd. American Robert Levinson has also been missing in Iran since March 2007.

We call on the Government of Iran to provide American and Canadian detainees with immediate consular access, full legal rights and protection, and a complete and transparent account of the charges against them.

As we have stated in the past, we fully respect the sovereignty of Iran. At the same time, we seek the safe and rapid return of all detained and missing citizens in Iran to their respective countries so that they might be reunited with their families.”

[Link to statement]
[Link to September 25 State Department press briefing by Spokesman Ian Kelly]

Iranian Diaspora Heads for New York to Confront Ahmadinejad (Source: New York Times)

By , September 23, 2009 2:46 am

Nazila Fathi and Robert Mackey have written about Kian’s plight in The New York Times news blog:

“When Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, rises to address the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Wednesday, protesters who claim that he holds office only because of a rigged election plan to gather in large numbers outside the building…

The detainees who were arrested after the election have been hauled into court for televised mass trials, charged with plotting a “velvet revolution” to overthrow the regime. There have been no indications that they will be released soon.

Some of those still held, like Kian Tajbakhsh, an Iranian-American scholar, and Maziar Bahari, an Iranian-Canadian filmmaker and journalist who reports for Newsweek, were apparently not involved in political activities.

Mr. Tajbakhsh, who was also arrested for three months in 2007, has been jailed since July 9. No formal charges have been brought against him, but a family member who spoke on condition of anonymity said that he has been kept in solitary confinement under watch by members of the Revolutionary Guards. When Mr. Tajbakhsh, looking frail and passive, appeared on state-run television during a mass trial of dissidents in late August, his two-year old daughter, Hasti, ran to kiss his image on the screen. His appearance led family members to fear that he is being drugged.

At least one political prisoner and the daughter of another high-profile prisoner, Mohammad Ali Abtahi, a former vice president, have confirmed that the political prisoners have been forced to take drugs — blue pills, they reported, that are said to make them less resistant and more cooperative with their interrogators…”

[Full article]

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