Iran Holds Iranian-Americans Hostage
The Iranian Islamic Revolutionary regime apparently has imprisioned two American citizens who were visiting family in Iran. In the most recent incident, Ali Shakeri, who runs a mortgage company and advises UC Irvine's Center for Citizen Peacebuilding, had gone to Tehran to visit his dying mother. Shakeri was scheduled to leave Iran and fly to Europe May 13. He never arrived at his destination, according to Human Rights Watch. Instead, his ticket had been canceled and his luggage taken from the airline's possession, the group said. As reported in the Los Angeles Times on Saturday, May 26:
Iranian officials have not commented publicly on Shakeri's whereabouts. But in recent weeks, two Iran American scholars have been imprisoned while visiting Iran and a reporter, also a dual national, has had her passport confiscated and has been unable to leave the country.
Iran's Ministry of Intelligence recently issued a statement alleging that American and Iranian intellectuals were forming "informal communication networks" to back the "soft toppling" of Iran.
Shakeri's abduction by Iranian secret police follows the pattern set previously, in the diappearance of Haleh Esfandiari, a 67-year old grandmother who is a researcher based at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. As related by in her husband, in a May 25, 2007 Op-Ed column in the Los Angeles Times:
[Ms. Esfandiari] went to Iran in late December to visit her 93-year-old mother, a trip she has made almost twice each year for a decade or more. On Dec. 30, on her way to the airport to fly back to Washington, she was stopped by three masked, knife-wielding men who took all her belongings, including her Iranian and U.S. passports. In retrospect, it was clearly an inside job; Iran's Ministry of Intelligence fielding "highwaymen" against Iran's own citizens.
Without a passport, Haleh was forced to return to her mother's apartment. When she tried to apply for a new one, a member of the Ministry of Intelligence took her aside. Over the next six weeks, Haleh was subjected to 50 hours of interrogation.
As reported Saturday by The Los Angeles Times:
[Ms. Esfandiari] was interrogated extensively and, earlier this month, imprisoned. The Iranian government this week announced she was being charged with setting up a network to overthrow the Islamic establishment. Her husband, Shaul Bakhash, denied the allegations as "totally without foundation."