Caught in a Web of Lies

The headline is, of course, irresistible: Great Satan sits down with Axis of Evil.

But even as these encouraging talks are taking place, the Iranian government cannot seem to let go of the fantasy: It has formally charged Haleh Esfandiari with “spying, acting against Iran’s national security and conducting propaganda against the Islamic Republic.” In addition, Kian Tajbaksh, a social scientist who also holds dual Iranian and American citizenships has been jailed and charged with spying, as has Parnaz Azima, a journalist.

This weekend, Haleh Esfandiari’s husband, Shaul Bakhash, also an academic, wrote an impassioned piece in the Los Angeles Times asking for her release.

Should you wake up one day to find your wife or child or parent in the hands of the secret police in a country that routinely violates the rule of law, you will likely choose quiet probing over publicity. You have no recourse to law or courts. You fear publicity may make things worse. You believe, almost always wrongly, that if you work quietly, use the contacts you have and wait reasonably, the nightmare will be over.

When Haleh was initially prevented from leaving Iran and the interrogations began, it was principally at my insistence that we did not “go public.” Repeatedly I was told by those who supposedly understand the inner workings of Iran: “Don’t worry; it’s only an interrogation; once they have finished with their questions, they will let her go.”

Once Haleh was arrested, however, silence was no longer an option.

I am very upset–this woman is my mother’s age, she is a grandmother, and she is someone who advocated for dialogue, not war. And now she’s in Evin Prison, on this ridiculous charge. Please sign the petition for Haleh’s release, as well as Kian’s release.

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