Iran Frees Fourth Detained Iranian-American
September 25, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Iranian authorities have released Ali
Shakeri, an Iranian-American peace activist who had been detained for months on
suspicion of harming national security.
Shakeri is the
last Iranian-American to be freed from among a total of four who were taken into
custody or prevented from leaving Iran earlier this year.
California-based peace activist and businessman, Shakeri was detained in May
while on a private trip to Iran to visit family members. He was held by the
Iranian authorities for 138 days under the vaguely worded accusation of
intending to harm national security. The Iranians have never made clear what he
is supposed to have done.
Radio Farda reported today that Shakeri was
freed from Evin prison on September 24 on bail of 1 billion rials ($107,000). It
is unclear whether he has permission to leave the country.
comes just before Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad addresses the United
Nations General Assembly in New York later today, and it appears it could be a
gesture on the Iranian side linked to the delivery of the speech.
Last Of Four U.S. Citizens Held
Shakeri is a board member
of the Center for Citizen Peacebuilding at the University of California, which
studies how citizens can promote peace in divided societies.
He is one of
four dual Iranian-American citizens who were detained or prevented from leaving
Iran in the course of this year. The others were Haleh Esfandiari, a scholar at
the U.S. Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars; social scientist and
urban planner Kian Tajbakhsh, a consultant to the New York-based Open Society
Institute; and Parnaz Azima, a reporter for U.S.-funded Radio Farda.
Azima was the only one of the four not jailed, but her passport was
All faced various security-related accusations, and all have
recently been released. Esfandiari and Azima have now flown out of Iran.
Tajbakhsh must get the permission of a judge before he can leave
News agencies have quoted diplomats as suggesting the Iranian
actions against the Iranian-Americans are possibly retaliation for the arrest by
the U.S. military of five Iranians in Iraq in January.
have increased tension between Tehran and Washington at a time of growing
concern about the Iranian nuclear program, which the United States claims is
aimed at making a nuclear weapon. That charge has repeatedly been rejected by
Iranian officials, most recently by President Ahmadinejad during an appearance
at Columbia University in New York on September
Copyright (c) 2007 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org
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