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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

American charged with espionage is set free in Iran

RIA Novosti

20/09/2007 13:33 TEHRAN, September 20 (RIA Novosti) - An Iranian-American who was detained in Tehran in May and charged with espionage and subversive activities has been released from custody on bail, the judiciary official news agency reported Thursday.

"Kian Tajbakhsh was released from prison on bail," a spokesman for Iran's judiciary said late Wednesday. His bail was set at 1 billion rials (about US$110,000), but the spokesman said Tajbakhsh was not allowed to leave Iran.

Kian Tajbakhsh, an internationally renowned social scientist and urban planner, told Western journalists permitted to visit him at the Evin prison, north of Tehran, that he was being held in solitary confinement, but was being treated well.

The scholar was serving as an advisor to the Open Society Institute, part of the George Soros Foundation, when he was detained May 11 for allegedly working on behalf of U.S. intelligence services.

The Open Society Institute adamantly denied the charges, calling them groundless. In a statement on its Web site, it said that Tajbakhsh's work had focused on public health, humanitarian relief, culture and local government, and had sought to foster better relations between Iran and the outside world.

In July, Iranian television broadcast a documentary program, "In the name of democracy," which showed Tajbakhsh and Esfandiari 'confessing' that U.S. intelligence services were actively involved in undermining the Iranian regime.

They also 'confessed' that when arrested, they had been working "under the control of American political institutions" to organize a so-called "fifth column" in Iran and foment a "velvet revolution."

Esfandiari, who is the director of the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars, in Washington D.C., was released August 21.

Speaking Monday, she said her arrest May 8 remained a mystery to her, and that she endured months of intensive interrogations before finally being let go.

Ali Shakeri, a member of a California-based democracy group, the Center for Citizen Peacebuilding, is still being held in custody at Evin prison. There have been no statements made by Iranian officials concerning his release.


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