Iran Human RightsTwo US-Iranians jailed in Iran on spying charges

Two US-Iranians jailed in Iran on spying charges

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AFP: Iran on Tuesday announced it was holding a second US-Iranian scholar on charges of spying for foreigners alongside the US-Iranian Middle East expert Haleh Esfandiari.
TEHRAN, May 29, 2007 (AFP) – Iran on Tuesday announced it was holding a second US-Iranian scholar on charges of spying for foreigners alongside the US-Iranian Middle East expert Haleh Esfandiari.

Judiciary spokesman Ali Reza Jamshidi said that social science scholar Kian Tajbakhsh, 45, was being held on the same charges as Esfandiari, namely acting against the Islamic republic and spying for foreigners.

Esfandiari, who was detained on May 8, has been formally accused by the intelligence ministry of “acting against the security of the country through propaganda and espionage for foreigners,” he told reporters.

“The same goes for Mr Tajbakhsh. He is being kept in detention,” said Jamshidi, confirming that Esfandiari was also still being held. Both detainees have US and Iranian passports but Iran does not recognise dual nationality.

An expert in urban planning who has taught in the United States and Iran and worked for the World Bank, Tajbakhsh was according to US press reports arrested on May 11.

He has also worked for the Open Society Institute of US billionaire George Soros which is accused by Iran of seeking a “Velvet Revolution” in Iran similar to the ousting of communism in eastern Europe.

Jamshidi’s comments were the first time Iran has confirmed Tajbakhsh’s detention and his charges.

US media and Human Rights Watch have said that a third US-Iranian, Ali Shakeri, has been detained in Iran in recent weeks but Jamshidi said that Shakeri “is not detained”, without giving further details.

However the judiciary spokesman added that Parnaz Azima, another US-Iranian who works for the US-funded Persian language arm of Radio Free Europe, was facing the same charges as Esfandiari and Tajbakhsh.

Azima, who like Esfandiari was visiting Iran to call on a sick relative, has had her passport confiscated by the authorities and is unable to leave the country after paying a 440,000-dollar bail bond.

“Ms Azima is not detained. She is at liberty but bears the same accusations,” as two detained scholars, said Jamshidi.

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