Iranian Hostage Haleh Esfandiari Freed!
Thank God! Dr. Haleh Esfandiari (right) of The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars had been held hostage on trumped up espionage charges by the Iranians since Dec. 30th of last year. It is not immediately clear if she will be allowed to return to her home in the U.S. or will be prohibited from leaving Iran pending trial on these trumped up charges.Two other Americans are being held hostage by the Iranian government. They are Parnaz Azima from the U.S.-funded Radio Farda and UCI Professor Ali Shakeri. A third American, Kian Tajbakhsh of the Open Society Institute (above), is barred from leaving Iran. I call them hostages because it has been clear from the beginning that these Americans lives were being to be used as leverage in the ongoing dispute over Iranian nuclear ambitions. The Wilson Center has this up:
n Iranian official this morning announced that Dr. Haleh Esfandiari has been released on bail from Evin prison. Esfandiari, director of the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Middle East Program, was incarcerated in Tehran on May 8, 2007, on allegations of endangering Iranian national security. “We rejoice at the news of Haleh’s release,” said Lee H. Hamilton, president and director of the Wilson Center. “This has been a long and trying ordeal for her and for her family. Her physical and mental well-being is now the urgent priority. We want to see her well, we want her to be permitted to return to the United States, and we want to see her reunited with her family.” “Haleh has lost close to seven months of her life. She was subjected to untold hours of interrogation and an isolation that we cannot imagine. She was denied time with her husband, her daughter, her son-in-law, her two granddaughters, and literally hundreds of other family members, friends, and colleagues who care deeply about her.” “We thank all who offered their prayers and their efforts on behalf of Haleh’s release. An extraordinary amount of people from around the world rallied to Haleh’s side. We have had many interlocutors—official and non-official—on Haleh’s behalf. We have had many staff members at the Wilson Center who worked tirelessly in the hope that this day would come. This outpouring only reinforces Haleh’s life’s work on behalf of dialogue, understanding, and bringing people together.” “We look forward to the day when Haleh is fully recovered from this ordeal, and she can return to her colleagues and her important work. We continue to hope and pray for the safe and quick return of Kian Tajbakhsh, Parnaz Azima, and Ali Shakeri, who have also been unjustly detained in Iran.”Amen.