AFP: US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Friday said she was deeply concerned at the “inexplicable detention” of Iranian-American academic Haleh Esfandiari in Tehran. WASHINGTON, May 11, 2007 (AFP) – US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Friday said she was deeply concerned at the “inexplicable detention” of Iranian-American academic Haleh Esfandiari in Tehran.
A dual US-Iranian national who has lived in the United States for more than 25 years, Esfandiari returned to Iran in December to visit her ailing mother and has since been prevented from leaving by authorities.
She was jailed in Tehran’s Evin prison on Tuesday, said the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, where she works as director the Middle East Program.
“I am deeply concerned about the inexplicable detention of renowned scholar Dr Haleh Esfandiari by the Iranian government,” Clinton said in a statement.
Clinton said Esfandiari had made significant contributions to international women’s issues and Iranian politics.
“This imprisonment contradicts the very essence of her work, which focuses on ensuring the promise of democracy and freedom to those who live under tyranny,” the New York senator said.
“I urge the government of Iran to release Dr. Esfandiari,” she said, and also called on Iran to ease travel restrictions on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty journalist Parnaz Azima who was also unable to leave Iran.
Senator Joseph Lieberman meanwhile said Esfandiari had been “inexplicably and inexcusably imprisoned.”
On Wednesday, the State Department confirmed the Iranian action against Esfandiari, and said Iran had also confiscated the passport of two other Iranian-American women, including Parnaz Azima.
The third woman was not identified.
The Washington Post, citing relatives and colleagues of the three women, described them as “soft hostages” apparently caught up in an Iranian reaction to a 75 million dollar initiative launched last year by President George W. Bush to promote democracy in Iran.