Iran General NewsIran temporarily releases Iranian-American scholar

Iran temporarily releases Iranian-American scholar

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ImageAP: Iran has temporarily released an Iranian-American scholar serving prison time on an espionage conviction so he can spend the Iranian New Year holiday with his family, officials said Sunday. The Associated Press

ImageTEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran has temporarily released an Iranian-American scholar serving prison time on an espionage conviction so he can spend the Iranian New Year holiday with his family, officials said Sunday.

Kian Tajbakhsh, a social scientist and urban planner, was the only American detained in the crackdown that crushed giant street protests by hundreds of thousands of people after June's disputed presidential election.

Iran traditionally releases some prisoners during the New Year holiday. Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi said Tajbakhsh was released Saturday on $800,000 bail for 15 days, the semiofficial ISNA news agency reported. The terms of the release do not allow him to leave the country.

Tajbakhsh was arrested in July and brought to trial with more than 100 people — most of them opposition activists and protesters accused of seeking to topple the Islamic ruling system. Rights groups criticized the proceedings as a show trial and said televised courtroom confessions were likely coerced.

Tajbakhsh, who was in Iran to work on a book, was convicted of spying and sentenced to 15 years in prison. Last month an appeals court reduced his sentence to five years.

His family says he is innocent of any crime.

Tajbakhsh is healthy and will stay with his family in Iran throughout the New Year holiday, which begins March 21 and normally ends April 4, said his lawyer, Masoud Shafiei.

U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, have repeatedly called for the scholar's release.

In 2007, Tajbakhsh and three other Iranian-Americans were convicted of endangering national security and imprisoned for four months.

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