It involved the detention of dual citizenship holders, Haleh Esfandiari, Kian Tajbakhsh, Ali Shakeri and Parnaz Azima. This paper will recount the issues involved in this detention and the charges levied against these four Iranian-Americans based on newspaper accounts. It will also detail the reaction of US President George Bush and the rebuttals of Iranian officials. The purpose of this investigation is to determine if the detention is actually an Iranian act of terrorism against the US.
According to news reports, the detention of the first of the Iranian-Americans occurred in May 8, 2007 when Haleh Esfandiari was incarcerated in Evin Prison, followed by the arrest of Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh on May 11, 2007, who was also remanded to the same facility. Two other Iranian-Americans were also charged, after having been prevented from leaving Iran for an undisclosed period of time. Ali Shakeri, on his way to Europe, was detained on May 8 as well while Parnaz Azima was prevented from leaving Iran when authorities confiscated her passport in January 2007. A brief description of the four detainees follows.
"Haleh Esfandiari is the director for the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars, in Washington". ("Haleh Esfandiari") She is an expert on Middle Eastern women's issues and democratic development as well as contemporary Iranian politics. She has published numerous papers on the contemporary issues concerning Iran, focusing on the plight of Iranian women. She has a doctorate degree from the University of Vienna and is the recipient of the MacArthur Foundation Grant. She has been prevented from leaving Iran since December 2006 when her luggage and passport were stolen while on her way out of Iran to the airport. ("Haleh Esfandiari")
As a social scientist, Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh has published two books, received his Master's degree from University College in London and his doctoral degree from Columbia University. "He is also associated with the Open Society Institute, a non-profit organization promoting public health, humanitarian relief, culture, and local government". ("KIAN TAJBAKHSH, PhD"). Dr. Tajbakhsh worked with the Iranian government on issues of public health in rebuilding communities in the aftermath of the Bam earthquake ("KIAN TAJBAKHSH, PhD").
Ali Shakeri is an Iranian-American businessman connected with Global Estate Funding from Irvine, California who graduated from the University of Texas. He served in the University of California's Center for Citizen Peacebuilding as part of the Community Advisory Board. He is also an active member of the Ettehade Jomhourikhahan-e Iran (EJI) which is working for a democratic and secular republic Iran.
Parnaz Azima is a journalist for US government-funded Radio Farda. Not much is available on the career of Parnaz Azima, but Radio Farda has long been a thorn on the side of Iran. A joint project of the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) and Voice of America (VOA), it is a 24/7 radio service broadcasting news about Iran as well as popular Persian and Western music. The radio station's website, in which users can red and interact, had been blocked from access by the