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Iranian American Kian Tajbakhsh Sentenced

The following is an editorial reflecting the views of the US Government

Source: VOA

Iranian American scholar Kian Tajbakhsh has been sentenced to at least 12 years in prison in Iran. Charged with crimes against national security, Mr. Tajbakhsh was the only American citizen included in a mass show trial of over 100 people arrested in the aftermath of the disputed presidential election in June. Thousands of others who had been detained were released. There are reports that many suffered abuse by authorities during their detention.

Iranian-American scholar Kian Tajbakhsh defends himself during the trial.

Free Kian 2009

In a statement, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs expressed the U.S.'s "deepest regret and strongest objection" to the sentencing of Kian Tajbakhsh. Mr. Gibbs said the U.S. is "deeply concerned" that Mr. Tajbakhsh was tried without the benefit of his own legal counsel.

"The right to a fair and public hearing is embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the right to legal representation is also guaranteed in Iran's own constitution, as well as in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a party," Mr. Gibbs said. "We urge Iran to release Mr. Tajbakhsh as soon as possible."

State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said Kian Tajbakhsh poses no threat to the Iranian government or its national security:

"Given the groundless nature of charges against him we call on Iran to grant his immediate release. As an independent and internationally respected academic, Mr. Tajbakhsh has always sought to foster better understandings between Iran and the United States and Iran and the international community."

Mr. Kelly urged Iran's government to resolve all outstanding cases involving American citizens, including 3 young hikers arrested in July while hiking through Iraq's Kurdistan region and who may have accidentally crossed the unmarked border of Iran; Robert Levinson, who disappeared on a private business trip to Iran's Kish Island in 2007, and retired Iranian American businessman Reza Taghavi, who was arrested in May 2008.

Related Article:

Iranian-American Stunned by Sentence
By Nazila Fathi, New York Times

When Kian Tajbakhsh went before a judge in Tehran on Sunday he had several reasons to think he would be released. Instead, to his utter shock, he was given a 15-year prison term.

Since being detained in July, Mr. Tajbakhsh, an Iranian-American scholar, had been permitted two home visits, the last on Oct. 15, when he appeared hopeful that he would be released soon, a family member said. He said he had been transferred recently to a villa on the compound of the Evin prison, a sign of leniency that he thought suggested his release was imminent.


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