Posts tagged: prison sentence

New prison sentences: Tajbakhsh five years, Safaei Farahani six years, and Nabavi five years (Source: International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran)

By , March 12, 2010 10:19 am

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has published an article summarizing recent appeal sentences of political prisoners passed down by Iran’s General and Revolutionary Courts, including Kian’s:

“An appeals court has reduced Iranian American researcher Kian Tajbakhsh’s sentence to five years. Behzad Nabavi’s sentence has also been reduced to five years. Earlier there was news about the six year prison sentence of Mohsen Safaee Farahani, 61. General and Revolutionary Courts have announced the verdicts of 35 individuals arrested after the elections. An appeals court has reviewed and finalized the rulings, sending the cases to the “Implementation Unit” of the Courts.

“Congregation and mutiny against national security,” “propagation against the regime,” “attacking police officers,” “vandalism,” and “arsen” are some of the charges for these individuals. Behzad Nabavi is a senior member of the Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution Organization, and Mohsen Safaee Farahani, is a member of the central council of Islamic Participation Front and a former Member of the Parliament. Safaee Farahani and Nabavi were arrested after the elections following Iranian security and military authorities’ naming the post-elections protests “a velvet revolution.” Subsequently, those arrested after the elections, among them several prominent reformist figures, were taken to televised show trials in which some of them such as Mohammad Ali Abtahi, former Iranian Vice President, confessed to activities and criticized the reformist leaders. The Iranian Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, confirmed the validity of television confessions of the prisoners at a post-elections Friday Prayers’ sermon, criticizing the words of those who opposed use of such methods as “nonsense.”

In Addition to Mohsen Safaee Farahani, more than ten other members of the Participation Front are in prison now. Mohsen Mirdamadi, Abdollah Ramezan Zadeh, Azar Mansouri, Mostafa Tajzadeh, Mohsen Aminzadeh, Shabeddin Tabatabaee, Davood Soleimani, Hossein Nourani Nejad, Mehdi Mahmoudian, and Saeed Nourmohammadi are some of the party’s imprisoned members. Shahab Tabatabaee, one of the members, has been sentenced to five years in prison by Branch 15 of Revolutionary Courts. Abdollah Ramezan Zadeh has also received a six year imprisonment sentence on charges of “acting against national security.”

Iranian American researcher, Kian Tajbakhsh, who at first received a 15 year prison term, received a five year sentence from an Appeals Court. Charges against him are “actions against national security,” “espionage and contacts with foreign elements against the regime,” “accepting a consulting assignment from Soros Foundation in Iran toward a soft overthrow of Islamic Republic of Iran,” [never since 2007 -editors] “propagation activities against the regime,” “creating the illusion of fraud and falsification in elections results,” “compromising public trust toward the regime and official authorities of the country,” and “disruption in public order and creation of fear in society.”

[Link to article]

Iran court cuts jail term for U.S.-Iranian scholar (Source: Reuters)

By , February 10, 2010 1:35 pm

Although Kian’s 15-year sentence has been reduced to 5 years on appeal, the struggle to free him continues. The news was announced by his court-appointed (as opposed to independent) lawyer in advance of tomorrow’s expected protests:

“TEHRAN (Reuters) – An Iranian appeal court has reduced to five years the jail sentence for an Iranian-American scholar detained after last year’s disputed election and accused of espionage, an Iranian news agency reported on Wednesday.

In October, official media said Kian Tajbakhsh was sentenced to more than 12 years in jail.

“The appeal court sentenced my client … to five years in jail,” said lawyer Houshang Azhari, the semi-official Fars News Agency reported.

“It was a very good reduction … about two-thirds of the initial sentence,” he said.

Last year, the U.S. State Department said it had been told that Tajbakhsh was jailed for 15 years and it urged Tehran to immediately release him, saying the United States was deeply concerned about the long jail term.

Tajbakhsh was among thousands of people detained after the presidential poll in June last year, which plunged the Islamic Republic into turmoil. He was accused of espionage and acting against national security.

The moderate opposition says the vote was rigged to secure President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election. Officials deny the accusations.

Iranian authorities have portrayed the protests that erupted after the election as a foreign-backed bid to undermine the Islamic Republic’s clerical leadership.

Tajbakhsh, an Iranian American who holds a doctorate in urban planning from Columbia University, was first arrested by Iranian authorities in May 2007, charged with spying and then released after more than four months in Tehran’s Evin prison.

The United States, which cut diplomatic ties with Tehran after the revolution, accuses Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is to generate electricity so it can export more oil and gas.”

[Link to article]

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]

Interview: Embassy Hostage-Turned-U.S. Envoy Compares ’79 To Iran Today (Source: RFE/RL)

By , January 6, 2010 7:04 am

Senior State Department official John Limbert commented in an interview on the cases of Americans detained in Iran including Kian:

RFE/RL: Three U.S. hikers are [currently] detained in Iran. An Iranian-American scholar, Kian Tajbaksh, has been sentenced to a heavy prison term over the postelection unrest. And the family of a former FBI agent, Robert Levinson, who disappeared during a trip to Iran, believe that he’s still held there. What is the U.S. doing for these people? And how hopeful are you that they could be released in the near future?

Limbert: We are engaged in a lot of efforts, but for reasons that are obvious to you, I can’t give you details.

But we are in constant contact with countries that can influence this and can help. We believe that these are considered humanitarian issues and not political ones. We were hoping that some of them would be released for Christmas and New Year, but it didn’t happen.

We’re hoping that the Islamic Republic will release them in a humanitarian gesture and not treat [people] who merely exercised their rights in this manner.”

[Link to full article]

What Iran Is Doing To Americans (Source: The Atlantic’s Daily Dish)

By , December 16, 2009 10:05 am

The Atlantic‘s high-profile blog has published an entry on Kian’s case:

“On the heels of news that the regime is set to try three American hikers for espionage, this news is particularly troubling:

The case against the Iranian-American social scientist Kian Tajbakhsh contains no evidence to support the allegations against him, according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, following interviews with Masoud Shafie, Tajbakhsh’s lawyer. Tajbakhsh has been sentenced to a 15-year prison term for alleged espionage and actions against national security by a lower court and is currently in the appeals stage. The case has also been substantially invalidated by gross breaches of Iranian law and international standards for due process.  [...] Espionage is closely defined under Iranian law, and guilt needs to be established by evidence that highly confidential documents were passed to foreign governments. There are no references to such documents in the file.

Tajbakhsh, a renowned scholar and urban planner, was the only US citizen included in the mass show trials that followed the post-election unrest. More information about the man here. A heartbreaking interview with his mother here.”

[Link to article]

[Link to related entry "The "Other" Prisoner" in the British blog Enduring America (0935 and 1835 GMT entries)]

Faculty petition for Tajbakhsh’s release (Source: Columbia Spectator)

By , December 16, 2009 9:42 am

Over 150 Columbia University students and professors have publicized a letter lobbying for the release of Kian, a current Columbia faculty member:

“…Tajbakhsh, who was supposed to teach at Columbia’s School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, was arrested this summer in Iran during the aftermath of the elections. He has also faced numerous charges of spying and being a threat to the national government.

“We hope to raise awareness about Kian’s case, and show our support for him as a member of our academic community and as a renowned scholar who has been falsely accused and unjustly imprisoned,” said a graduate student involved in the campaign who was granted anonymity for security reasons. “The charges are nonsense. Kian is a dedicated scholar, and someone who cares deeply about Iran. He has worked throughout his career to foster understanding between Iran and the rest of the world. I was looking forward to seeing him continue that work at Columbia this year, and it is terribly sad and frightening to know that he is in prison right now, instead of in a classroom here.”

“We, the undersigned faculty of Columbia University, call for the immediate and unconditional release of our colleague Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh,” the letter begins. It emphasizes his academic achievements and status as “an internationally recognized scholar who has taught at both American and Iranian universities.”

“Throughout his career, he has dedicated himself to fostering better understanding between the United States and Iran,” it states…

[Gary] Sick, a senior research scholar at the Middle East Institute of Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs, called the charges against Tajbakhsh “absurd … the best evidence of the underlying paranoia in the Iranian revolution government. They are persuaded that America is part of the revolution and trying to overthrow their government. They are looking for anybody that has associated with foreign government. … Some go to jail, others go to death,” he said.

“I have never been a CIA agent,” Sick added, stating that the accusation was invented by “an Iranian journalist or publisher.” He called it “disappointing” that there was “no effort to verify that it is true,” considering that “this is supposed to be a court case.”

“They can give you 15 years of jail for a rumor,” Sick said…”

[Link to 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]

Mother of Iranian-American scholar urges release (Source: Associated Press)

By , December 3, 2009 11:03 am

Kian’s mother pleads for her son’s release:

“WASHINGTON – The mother of an Iranian-American scholar facing espionage charges in Tehran is urging the Iranian government to release her son.

Speaking by phone from Tehran, Farideh Gueramy (FAH’-rih-day GUHR’-ah-mee) said Tuesday that the government has not clarified the legal grounds on which her son, Kian Tajbakhsh (KEE’-ahn TAZH’-bahdzh), has been charged. She says he is innocent.

“The problem is that we really don’t have any clear information,” Gueramy said.

Gueramy said that the family recently hired prominent Iranian lawyer, Masoud Shafie, to represent Tajbakhsh. Family members, including Tajbakhsh’s wife and two-year-old daughter, have been able to visit him about once a week in prison.

Tajbakhsh has already been sentenced to 15 years in prison on spying charges. But new espionage charges were brought this month raising the possibility of a harsher penalty.

Tajbakhsh was writing a book when he was arrested five months ago amid security forces’ crackdown following June’s disputed presidential election. He 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 ashow trial.

Last 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.

His family denies that he was involved in the postelection protests.

“He hasn’t done anything. He was at his home writing books,” Gueramy said. “I hope they realize that and let him go home to his two-year-old baby.”

[Link to article]

EU Presidency Statement on the case of Kian Tajbakhsh in Iran (Source: European Union)

By , December 2, 2009 10:23 am
The Presidency of the European Union has issued a statement about Kian’s case and the human rights situation in Iran:

“In a declaration of 23 October the European Union expressed concern at the sentencing of American-Iranian scholar Kian Tajbakhsh to 12-15 years in prison. Recent reports that Dr Tajbakhsh now faces additional charges of espionage are deeply worrying. Dr Tajbakhsh was arrested in connection with the popular demonstrations after the Presidential election on 12 June and has been detained in Iran without access to an independent lawyer since 9 July.

The Presidency of the European Union remains deeply concerned by the overall human rights situation in Iran, including the large number of cases similar to that of Dr Tajbakhsh which fall short of the international human rights standards regarding fair trial that Iran has committed itself to implement and which in many cases also violate Iranian constitutional and legal provisions. The Presidency reiterates the call from the European Union to the Iranian authorities to release journalists and individuals detained for political offences.

The Presidency urges the Islamic Republic of Iran to comply with all international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Iran – not least with relevant articles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights regarding the right to a fair trial, which is also enshrined in the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

[Link to statement]

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