Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Wilson center scholar jailed in Tehran

Haleh Esfandiari, an Iranian-American who serves as Director of the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, in Washington, D.C., was jailed Tuesday in Tehran’s Evin prison after four months of being barred from leaving the country, according to a New York Times article Wednesday.

Since December, Esfandiari has been repeatedly interrogated about her work in the country. On December 30, masked gunmen, possibly sent by the Intelligence Ministry, stole her luggage, including both her Iranian and American passports. She was later sequestered for interrogation after she attempted to replace her passport.

Possible reasons for Tehran’s actions against Esfandiari, as speculated by other Iranian-American scholars, include a government perception of a link between academic institutes and efforts to change the government. Others say that she may have simply been caught in the middle of political rivalries between supporters of the current Iranian president and his predecessor.

Lee H. Hamilton, director of the Wilson Center and a former congressman, wrote to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in February seeking Esfandiari’s release, but never received a reply.

For the full article, click here.


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