Posts tagged: US State Department

USG Statement on U.S. Citizens Unjustly Detained in Iran (Source: U.S. State Department)

By , March 12, 2010 10:26 am

On the occasion of the third anniversary of the disappearance of Robert Levinson in Iran, the State Department has called on Iran to release all unjustly detained US citizens, including Kian:

“… The United States also calls on Iran to resolve the cases of the five American citizens who are unjustly detained in Iran: Joshua Fattal, Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd, Kian Tajbakhsh, and Reza Taghavi…”

[Full statement]

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: 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]

Interview with mother of Iranian-American in Evin prison (Source: BBC World); Jailed Iranian-American Faces 15 Years in Iran Prison (Source: NPR); U.S. Will Not Ignore Iran Protests (Source: CNN)

By , December 20, 2009 7:28 am

BBC, NPR and CNN have featured Kian’s case as his independent lawyer Masoud Shafie confirms the lack of evidence against him and further reports of human rights violations and mass protests in Iran continue to emerge:

The BBC World Service’s “The World Today” program broadcast this BBC interview with Kian’s mother Farideh Gueramy.

National Public Radio aired this NPR profile of Kian on its Weekend Edition Saturday program and posted this blog entry and this story update (also a ‘related’ story on the program explored a recent attack by the Iranian ‘cyber army’ on Twitter’s electronic social network).

While speaking on CNN’s “Amanpour” program, award-winning artist and filmmaker Shirin Neshat reminded the show’s participants and viewers about Kian’s plight.
CNN also posted a print summary and transcript of the show:

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, U.S. President Barack Obama accepts the Nobel Peace Prize, and he says America is bearing witness to the global struggle for rights and justice, including inside Iran. But are those words enough? …

The government’s efforts to stop images of those demonstrations from reaching the rest of the world failed, as you can see from these pictures that emerged via the Internet. Authorities also tried to prevent foreign news organizations from covering the protests, sending SMS messages to their cell phones, telling them that they could not be on the streets for several days this week, but the world still watches.

During his Nobel lecture in Norway, President Obama raised the plight of the protestors, even as he walked the fine line of trying to engage with the very government that is cracking down on them.

And joining me now, the Wall Street Journal’s Farnaz Fassihi. She’s been tracking evidence of Iranian authorities trying to intimidate Iranians even abroad, and John Limbert, the deputy assistant secretary for Iran at the U.S. State Department, and Iranian artist, Shirin Neshat, who won the Silver Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival for her film “Women without Men” and who’s become a voice of protest outside Iran…

AMANPOUR: So the president clearly there said, “They have us on their side.” What does that mean, John Limbert, if the United States is declaring that it’s on the side of the people there?

LIMBERT: It’s very clear, Christiane. We will not sit silently. We will not ignore what happens on the streets of Tehran. And we believe, as we have always believed, that the Iranian people deserve decent treatment from their government.

AMANPOUR: And you say you won’t sit silently, but at the same time, obviously, there are diplomatic negotiations that have go on, most particularly over the nuclear clock. There’s the possibility of sanctions going on. How do you walk that line of engagement and being on the side of the legitimate aspirations of the people?

LIMBERT: No, of course. That’s — that’s a good question. I think, Christiane, our diplomacy is good enough that we can do both, that we can make clear statements of support for the aspirations of the Iranian people for decent treatment from their government. At the same time, we can certainly talk with the government and the authorities there about things like the nuclear issue or Iraq or Afghanistan or — or other issues. And we have clearly offered to do so, and we are determined to do so in an atmosphere of mutual respect.

AMANPOUR: Let me turn to Shirin Neshat, not only an acclaimed artist, but also now a public voice for those protestors who are inside Iran. Do you believe that the world is paying sufficient attention and their human rights and legitimate aspirations are being embraced by the West?

SHIRIN NESHAT, FILMMAKER AND ARTIST: Christiane, let me tell you how it looks on our side. I feel that the students in Iran, the people of Iran, and the people of Iran outside of Iran are setting a great example of people who are truly fighting for democracy. And this creates a sense of hope for the rest of the region, the entire world, but we don’t feel that we have the sufficient support or the protection that is necessary.

And I think many Iranians inside and outside feel that they’ve been betrayed, particularly…

AMANPOUR: Why?

NESHAT: … with this emphasis on the nuclear weapon issue. It has distracted the world from paying attention to the atrocity that is taking place today in Iran. All of us are at risk, and we’re particularly — a lot of us are American citizens, as well, several in prison. We don’t see much support on this government showing direct action to help them out. And — and I think this is really a disappointment on Iranian side.

AMANPOUR: Let me press you, Mr. Limbert. Shirin raises the issue of Americans who are currently in jail in Iran. What is the government doing? And do you have any indication that they’re going to be — they’re going to be released, for instance, the three hikers?

LIMBERT: Well, I would like to see them released as soon as possible. We all would like them to be. This has — this has been very unfortunate. Our hearts go out to these innocent people who clearly wandered across an unmarked border and have been in custody for much — for much too long. We are pursuing all available avenues.

I should note that — that our protecting power in Tehran, the — represented by the Swiss embassy, has been able to visit these people. We are pressing for more visits. We are pressing for better treatment. And, of course, we are pressing for release as soon as possible…

NESHAT: …I think that, particularly these last few days, as the anniversary of the student movement comes, we realize that Iranian people have been fighting for democracy and freedom for over 150 years. And — and — and also, the women of Iran have been also fighting for idea of democracy and equality. So how odd that this struggle continues today with such similarity and force.

And I — can I just make one second comment that the issue of the American passport does not only belong to the American-born, but the Iranian-born, who are also holding American citizenship, including Kian Tajbakhsh. So when I referred to the help and protection, it’s only not for those people who are born in this country, but those who are, you know, currently the citizen of United States…

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]

US Says Iranian Charges Against American Citizen Unfounded (Source: VOA)

By , August 28, 2009 5:35 pm

David Gollust of the US State Department has written the following article about Kian’s case on behalf of the US Government:

“In some of its strongest comments to date on the Iranian dissident trials, the State Department has asserted the innocence of the lone American citizen among the defendants and says that “the world is watching” the spectacle of what have been widely described as show trials.”

[Full article]

US State Department Spokesman Ian Kelly again called on Iran to release Kian:

By , August 27, 2009 2:06 pm

MR. KELLY: …we, of course, are watching very closely what’s happening in Iran. We have said consistently that the regime in Iran has to respect the will of the Iranian people and respect their fundamental human rights. I think you know that one of the detainees on trial right now in the revolutionary court is an American citizen, Kian Tajbakhsh. He has not been given a lawyer. We believe the charges that he’s facing are without foundation. And we, of course, have consistently called for his release.

Mr. Tajbakhsh poses absolutely no threat to the Iranian Government or to its national security. He played absolutely no role in the election, and he’s a scholar. As I said yesterday, he has really devoted his life to promoting understanding between the Iranian people and the American people. And he’s scrupulously stayed politically neutral.

And I’ll just close by saying that the world is watching what’s going on in Iran right now, and we will bear witness to what’s going on.

[Full transcript]

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US State Department … “obviously be very concerned”

By , August 24, 2009 11:37 am

US State Department Spokesman Ian Kelly emphasized on August 25 that the United States government would “obviously be very concerned” if reports of official charges being lodged against Kian in the latest show trial are true, telling reporters:

MR. KELLY: …we have been concerned about [Kian Tajbakhsh's] detention. We’ve been trying to get information through the Swiss Embassy on him. We have called repeatedly for his release. And this is a man who has worked for many years to help build understanding between the Iranian people and the American people through his scholarly work…”

[Full transcript]

Family and Friends Deny Report by Iranian State News of Kian’s Release from Detention

By , August 19, 2009 12:38 pm

Reporting on US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s demand that Iran immediately release Kian and other American citizens from unjust detention, Iran’s state PressTV falsely claimed that Kian has been released on bail. PressTV reported on August 15 that Kian “was released on bail, but was prohibited from leaving the country.”

This report is false. Kian continues to be detained in Iran without access to a lawyer. His family and friends have not been informed about the specific charges lodged against him or how long authorities plan to continue holding him.

Secretary Clinton emphasized on August 15 that Kian “has spent his career working to enhance mutual understanding between Iran and the United States. The government of Iran should immediately release Mr. Tajbakhsh from detention and allow him to depart Iran to continue his academic pursuits.” The US State Department has repeatedly called for Kian’s release, with the latest demand issued in its August 17 press briefing.

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Hillary Clinton demands the immediate release of Kian (Source: US State Dept.)

By , August 15, 2009 4:38 am

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has issued a public statement demanding that the Iranian government release Kian immediately:

CLINTON: The United States is deeply concerned about the welfare of our American citizens who have been detained or are missing in Iran. We once again urge Iran’s leadership to quickly resolve all outstanding American citizen cases.

This includes the case of the American scholar, Kian Tajbakhsh, who has spent his career working to enhance mutual understanding between Iran and the United States. The government of Iran should immediately release Mr. Tajbakhsh from detention and allow him to depart Iran to continue his academic pursuits…

Our goal is to ensure the safe return of all our missing or unjustly detained American citizens to the United States as quickly as possible so that they can be reunited with their families.”

[Full statement]

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