Haleh Esfandiari Update

by matttbastard

BBC News reports that jailed Iranian-American academic Dr. Haleh Esfandiari, director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, has been released from Evin Prison after being arrested on May 8th. According to the Wilson Center, after being held for 21 days, Dr. Esfandiari was “formally charged with espionage and “endangering national security through propaganda against the system.”” (The Wilson Center has published a timeline of events [current as of July 26] relating to the arrest and detention of Dr Esfandiari, available in .doc format here.)

Despite her release, it is still unclear whether Dr. Esandiari will be allowed to return home to the US. And she’s not alone. Other Iranian-American nationals accused of “acting against national security by engaging in propaganda against the Islamic republic by the method of spying on behalf of foreigners” still being held in Iran (either imprisoned or as so-called ‘soft hostages’ not allowed to leave the country) include academic Kian Tajbakhsh, RFE-RL journalist Parnaz Azima and peace activist Ali Shakeri (more from IFEX).

And don’t think these detentions are unrelated to the $75 million destabilization ‘democracy promotion’ program undertaken by the Bush administration earlier this year (I’m sure the recent designation of the Revolutionary Guard as a ‘terrorist’ organization is also paying measurable dividends for reformers and dissidents, too). Ezra Klein and Brad Plumer have more on how US efforts at destabilization ‘democracy promotion’ in Iran have predictably resulted in crackdowns by Tehran on internal dissent (heck’uva job, etc).

Related: Akbar Ganji, labeled “Iran’s leading political dissident” by The Boston Review, gives his prescription for effectively fostering change in Iran.

Flashback: ‘An Inappropriate Endorsement’ (or, the enemy of my enemy is not my ally).

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