Woodrow Wilson Center Thanks IAPAC for Efforts to Help Iranian American Scholar Haleh Esfandiari
Washington, D.C.– In a letter dated August 8, 2007, Lee Hamilton, President and Director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, thanked the Iranian American Political Action Committee (IAPAC) for its efforts to assist Dr. Haleh Esfandiari.
Esfandiari, Director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center, was arrested in Tehran on May 8th after being barred from leaving Iran for the previous four months. She was in Iran visiting her ailing mother. Esfandiari was charged with endangering Iranian national security — allegations her family vehemently denies. After months spent in the notorious Evin prison with no access to lawyers, she was released on bail Tuesday. It remained unclear if the 67-year-old grandmother would be allowed to leave the country.
“The entire staff of Wilson Center, as well as Haleh’s husband and family, appreciates your organization’s efforts to free Haleh,” said Hamilton. “We would also like to thank your organization for issuing the May 14th statement expressing concern for Dr. Esfandiari and the other detained Iranian-Americans. Your support is vital to the Wilson Center’s broader efforts to free Haleh, and we commend you for your continued dedication to her case.”
Hamilton stated that the Wilson Center is grateful for the enormous outpouring of support for Dr. Esfandiari, and the many efforts underway to help bring her back in good health. Esfandiari's family, colleagues, former students, together with many organizations, are continuing efforts to bring attention to her unjustified arrest.
Three other Iranian Americans have also been detained by Iranian authorities: Parnaz Azima, a journalist for Radio Free Europe/Radio Farda, Kian Tajbakhsh, an urban planning consultant with the Soros Foundation's Open Society Institute, and Ali Shakeri, board member of the University of California at Irvine’s Center for Citizen Peacebuilding. Shakeri and Tajbakhsh are in prison. Azima is not in prison but is barred from leaving Iran.
The detentions have become a point of contention between the U.S. and Iran. Both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate have passed resolutions calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Esfandiari and other Iranian-Americans detained in Iran.