Tags: Iran | Frees | U.S. | Academic | Bail

Iran Frees U.S. Academic on Bail

Tuesday, 21 August 2007 12:00 AM

TEHRAN -- Iran released on Tuesday a U.S.-Iranian academic detained on security-related charges since May after payment of 3 billion rials ($320,000) bail, her lawyer said.

Haleh Esfandiari's lawyer, Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi, said her client would leave jail shortly.

Iran has accused Esfandiari and another dual national it is holding of involvement in what it says is a U.S.-led plot to topple the Islamic Republic's clerical establishment in a "soft revolution." Washington has dismissed the allegation.

"She will come out of the prison in half an hour," Ebadi told Reuters. "I'm happy that the judiciary and the Islamic revolutionary court finally accepted the law and released my client on bail."

Esfandiari was detained in early May while on a visit to Tehran to see her elderly mother. "By paying the bail that was set she has been freed," ISNA news agency quoted an unnamed official from the prosecutor's office as saying.

On August 12, Iran's judicial authorities said they had completed their investigations into Esfandiari and another detained Iranian-American, Kian Tajbakhsh. A third U.S-Iranian is also being held while a fourth is already out on bail.

Esfandiari works at the U.S. Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Tajbakhsh is a consultant with the Soros Institute, founded by billionaire investor George Soros.

Last month, Iranian television aired "confessions" by Esfandiari and Tajbakhsh, which the Foreign Ministry said had revealed a U.S.-backed plot to overthrow Iran's clerical rulers.

The United States denounced the broadcast as illegitimate and coerced, and urged Tehran to release the detainees.

The two countries, which have not had diplomatic ties since shortly after the 1979 Islamic revolution, are also embroiled in an escalating standoff over Tehran's nuclear program. The West suspects it is aimed at making bombs, a charge Iran denies.

Iran and the U.N. nuclear agency watchdog IAEA are holding a second day of talks in Tehran aimed at defusing the nuclear dispute.

Asked about the ISNA report that Esfandiari had been freed on bail, a U.S. official who asked not to be identified said: "We can't confirm that yet."

May's detentions coincided with what rights groups and diplomats said was a fresh crackdown on dissent in Iran, which some analysts have said is a bid to quash opponents when the country is under outside pressure.

Iran dismisses accusations it is violating human rights and insists the cases are purely a legal matter concerning state security.

© reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.

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TEHRAN -- Iran released on Tuesday a U.S.-Iranian academic detained on security-related charges since May after payment of 3 billion rials ($320,000) bail, her lawyer said. Haleh Esfandiari's lawyer, Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi, said her client would leave jail...
Iran,Frees,U.S.,Academic,Bail
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2007-00-21
Tuesday, 21 August 2007 12:00 AM
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