Posts tagged: Washington Post

The Iranian Hostages are Iran’s Answer to President Obama (Source: Washington Post)

By , December 20, 2009 7:13 am

An op ed by the editors of The Washington Post about the American hikers detained in Iran mentions Kian’s case as well:

“IRAN’S EXTREMIST rulers don’t scruple at persecuting innocent people — particularly foreigners — to advance narrow political aims. Since staging what amounted to a coup during June’s presidential election, the regime has arrested and prosecuted a number of Western citizens on bogus charges to reinforce its propaganda, which claims that post-election protests were organized by Western intelligence agencies. One, Iranian American scholar Kian Tajbakhsh, was unjustly sentenced to 15 years in prison in October and now faces new charges.

But foreigners are persecuted not only to prove conspiracy theories; they can also be crudely exploited as bargaining chips. That seems to explain the case of three young Americans who apparently wandered across the Iraqi-Iranian border in July while hiking. They were apprehended, tossed into Tehran’s notorious Evin prison and recently were charged with espionage. According to Politico.com, Iranian authorities have responded to requests for their release on humanitarian grounds by linking them to Iranians in U.S. custody — some of whom have been charged with arms trafficking…

Shane Michael Bauer, 27, Joshua Felix Fattal, 27, and Sarah Emily Shourd, 31, may also be fodder for Iran’s crude version of tit for tat. In 2007, U.S. forces arrested five Iranians in the city of Irbil in Iraqi Kurdistan, describing them as members of the al-Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guard Corps; they were not released until last July. Iraqi officials say that their inquiries to Iran about the American travelers, who were traveling in Kurdistan, have been answered with comparisons to the “Irbil five.”

What’s clear is that the three Americans are innocent of espionage, arms smuggling or of any other offense other than not being aware that they had crossed the border while hiking near a popular waterfall in Iraqi Kurdistan. Mr. Bauer is a freelance journalist; Ms. Shourd a teacher and writer; Mr. Fattal an environmentalist and inveterate traveler. They have now been held for more than 4 1/2 months, without access to a lawyer and with only limited contact with their families. On Monday Iran’s foreign minister said they would be “tried by Iran’s judiciary.”

For the Obama administration, the hikers’ treatment is but one more indication that the regime of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has no interest in the constructive “engagement” that Mr. Obama has offered. Such despicable persecution of innocent people only adds to the reasons the administration should focus its energies on isolating and imposing sanctions on the regime’s leaders, while doing what it can to support the opposition Green movement.”

[Full editorial]

A Test for Iran (Source: Washington Post)

By , September 16, 2009 3:50 pm

An op-ed published by the editors of The Washington Post today calls on the United States to demand that Iran release Kian, Maziar Bahari and other Western citizens within the context of official US-Iran engagement:

“THE OBAMA administration has chosen to support international negotiations with Iran next month in spite of Tehran’s declarations that it will not discuss its nuclear program. The White House says the United States and its five partners will insist on raising the U.N. Security Council’s demand for a suspension of Iranian uranium enrichment. Yet if engagement with Iran is to have any hope of success, at least one other item should be on the agenda: the government’s recent repression of domestic opposition, and in particular its prosecution of Western citizens.

Since August the regime of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has been staging show trials of some 140 politicians, civil society activists and journalists accused of trying to carry out a Western-orchestrated “color revolution” in Iran. The crudely staged cases are the latest phase in a coup by extremists, led by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, against more moderate factions that represent the majority of the country — and that include the proponents of a genuine rapprochement between Iran and the West. By opening talks with the Ahmadinejad clique, the international alliance risks strengthening the extremists’ hand in a fateful power struggle. If they win, the negotiations are doomed.

One way to avoid this pitfall is for the United States to insist on discussing the human rights issues raised by the show trials. The obvious lack of due process for leading regime opponents contravenes international human rights standards that Iran claims to respect. The cases of torture and rape of prisoners courageously documented by opposition presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi should be as worthy of discussion as the non-nuclear subjects that Iran wants to bring up.

The United States and several other countries also have a direct interest in the cases of people with dual citizenship and embassy employees who have been swept up in the purge. These journalists, scholars and functionaries were not part of the opposition movement, but the regime is using them to bolster its claims that all of the opposition is part of a foreign conspiracy. Two cases that stand out are those of Kian Tajbakhsh, an Iranian American scholar, and Maziar Bahari, a Canadian American filmmaker and accredited correspondent in Iran for Newsweek magazine, which is published by The Washington Post Co.

Mr. Bahari was arrested at his mother’s home on June 21; Mr. Tajbakhsh was picked up July 9. Both have been denied access to consular officials or their own lawyers. At a ghastly “press conference” after his appearance at his trial Aug. 1, Mr. Bahari delivered statements echoing the regime’s propaganda about Western plots and the supposed role of journalists in them. Mr. Tajbakhsh, who was due to begin teaching at Columbia University this month, played no role in the opposition protests yet has been charged with being one of their planners.

There is an easy way for the Obama administration to test Iran’s seriousness about negotiations: It should demand that Mr. Bahari, Mr. Tajbakhsh, and other Western citizens being cruelly used as pawns in the regime’s domestic repression be immediately released and allowed to leave the country. Whether or not Mr. Ahmadinejad makes that simple concession will reveal whether the regime has any intention of mending relations with the United States.”

[Link to editorial]

U.S. worried about American scholar detained in Iran
(Source: Washington Post)

By , July 13, 2009 5:29 pm

The Washington Post ┬áhad an article titled: ‘U.S. Worried about American scholar detained in Iran‘.

Below is an excerpt from that article:

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

It was not clear why Tajbakhsh was detained last week.

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