Iran:Free Haleh Esfandiari

Dr. Haleh Esfandiari is the Director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC. She is a 67-year-old Iranian-American who came to the US over 25 years ago.In early May, Dr. Esfandiari received a call from the ministry suggesting she “cooperate” (i.e., confess), an offer she declined. On May 8, security forces took her away to Evin Prison, though she has not been formally charged with any crime. Evin Prison is notorious its harsh treatment of political prisoners.The “Free Haleh” campaign has been initiated by the American Islamic Congress in conjunction with Ibn Khaldoun Center in Cairo, the Initiative for Inclusive Security in Washington, and the Kuwaiti Economic Society.

7 comments

  • agha-hesam

    Ms. Haleh S. should have know better ( since she is an Iranian herself).
    The Interst Section Of Iran in Washington DC will tell you if you should travel to Iran or not depending the type of work you do. To my knowledge, Poeple like her are traveling to Iran for gathering information ( this should be noted that Information could be used for Spyng or writting a good book)
    What is important is how many important poeple are sending request for her release, which makes the matter worst, since that to an Iranin mind makes it very suspeciouse.

    One thing is for sure if she is a spy, she should be hanged from the tallest tree.

    why now.? why are so many people are traveling to iran..

    USA is preparing to attech Iran and they need ground information, and this is how they get this information. The same story they did with IRAQ, Iranian poeple read and watch TV , so they got smart.

    This time the story of 1953 will not happen again

  • L. C.

    Whomever wrote this last comment is clearly out of touch with reality just like the current Iranian government. Traveling to Iran to see your mother, like you have done EVERY YEAR for 25 years, does not equate being a spy.
    This is an example of the paranoia that is a result of the war in Iraq. Can we blame these countries for being afraid of an attack when we went into Iraq under false pretense? This situation is ridiculous. Haleh Esfandiari was no where that she would have been able to gather “intellegence”…unless the owner of the market down the road or her elderly sick mother have government ties…which seems entirely unlikely.
    This is a desperate attempt from President Amendinajad to gain some sort of power.
    Dr. Esfandiari should never have been held in Iraq. Isn’t it strange that the first time she goes to see her mother since Amendinajad took office THIS HAPPENS? It’s all very suspicious and all we can hope is that they are treating her with the respect and humanity she desearves. She has taught about the Middle Eastern culture for years. She has taught tolorence for the differences in religion and culture. She should be awarded, not accused.

  • L. C.

    And if the Iranian people got smart by reading the newspaper about the Iraq war then they would know that the United States had NO proper intellengence…THE US HAS ADMITTED TO BEING WRONG. There were no weapons of mass destruction, remember? So the spies for the US are obviously not very good at their jobs. The Iranian people have nothing to fear in terms of anyone there to gather any sort of “intellengence”

  • kami

    i totally agree with agha hesam , this lady is married to zionist and she loves another country beside iran. she is there to spy ,and no country is allowed to tell iran what to do with its enemy.
    lets find a tall tree.

  • Sp

    The writers who are calling her a “spy” don’t know her — I do. She was my Persian professor for 4 years at Princeton. I am an American citizen, and have no Iranian ancestry, but she imparted a deep appreciation for Iranian history, culture and language. I came to love Persian literature, and her teaching influenced me and many other students to have a very positive view of Iran. That’s hard to reconcile with being a spy or negative on her country. She never made political comments or in any way reflected on government. She was about understanding and mutual appreciation – her enthusiasm for Iranian literature was infectious. Maybe that is what got her in trouble — there is no trust clearly from those writing here that anyone could bear them goodwill and want to work together for a better future. Instead all you want to do is distrust and destroy. I am very sad for the Iranian people that this is the image portrayed to the world instead of all the good that exists in your heritage and history. “A tall tree” is a pretty poor place to get to from the beauty of Ferdowsi and Rumi and Khayyam. Can’t we do better for the generations to come than this kind of hate?

  • Rita

    Agha-Hesam and Kami: I feel such a deep sadness reading your words. My hope for all of us is to live in a world with more love and respect. Killing and violence will only continue the cycle of sorrow. I am so tired of it.

  • Jill

    Dr. Esfandiari also was my professor of the Persian language. I was privileged to have her as a teacher in a joint NYU -Priceton program. She was a caring teacher,supportive and encouraging of all of her students academically and interpersonally.Intertwined with careful instruction of the language,she shared with us the beauty of Iran’s vast literary and artistic heritage.Twenty two years since I last was taught by her I still love the architecture of Shah Abbas, Timurid and Safavid miniature painting. I enjoy Persian cuisine.But how can one enjoy Persian cuisine when the professor who first taught you the difference between a chelo and a pilau is imprisoned and deprived of basic rights?

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