Monday, September 03, 2007


After Months of Uncertainty and Imprisonment, Dr. Haleh Esfandiari Returns Home

September 03, 2007Dr. Haleh Esfandiari, director of the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Middle East Program, left Iran last night, and arrived in Vienna, Austria early this morning where she will visit with family before returning to her home in the U.S. On August 21, Iranian officials released Dr. Haleh Esfandiari, on bail, and they issued her passport on September 1st.“After a long and difficult ordeal, I am elated to be on my way back to my home and my family. These last eight months, that included 105 days in solitary confinement in Evin Prison, have not been easy. But I wish to put this episode behind me and to look to the future, not to the past,” said Haleh Esfandiari, director of the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Middle East Program. “I am immensely grateful for the unstinting support I received from Wilson Center President, Lee Hamilton, and the Wilson Center staff. I am equally grateful to the many organizations and hundreds of individuals all over the world that called and worked for my freedom; to the journalists and news organizations that gave my case wide coverage; and to all those who interceded on my behalf. I owe thanks also to my lawyer, Shirin Ebadi, and her legal colleagues who so ably represented me.” “I wish especially to thank the Austrian ambassador to Tehran, Dr. Michael Postl and his colleagues, whose friendship and concern for the well-being of my mother and myself was truly extra-ordinary.” “I am sure everyone will understand my need, now, for a period of quiet and privacy before I resume my normal activities.” “I am elated to get the news that Haleh can now leave Iran and is returning to the United States,” said Lee H. Hamilton, president and director of the Wilson Center. “I know that I echo the sentiments of many when I say that it will be marvelous to have her home.” “It is hard to imagine the feelings of frustration, pain, loneliness and sorrow Haleh felt while being imprisoned and unable to communicate with, and kept away from, her family for several months.” “Haleh can now join her husband, her daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughters, and take the time to be enveloped with their love. Our foremost concern is her well-being and good health. We at the Wilson Center look forward to welcoming Haleh back, only when she is ready to return. She is a cherished colleague and friend to all of us here.”“I thank all of you who were in constant contact with the Woodrow Wilson Center and Haleh’s family, asking about Haleh’s situation and how you might help, and all of the efforts to free Haleh. I also want to thank those in Iran who showed sympathy, understanding and respect for Haleh and her situation.“At this time, Haleh is not able to speak about her incarceration. I ask for your patience and understanding during this very sensitive time for her and that you respect her privacy.” “I also ask that everyone continue to call for the release and safe return of the other Iranian Americans being held in Tehran.”“I am delighted that Haleh is at last free, that her long ordeal has ended, and that after eight months of separation she will be with us again. I know that the many, many individuals and organizations who steadfastly stood with us in calling for an end to her unjustified detention join us in welcoming her home,” said Shaul Bakhash, Haleh’s husband and professor of history at George Mason University. Esfandiari, director of the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Middle East Program, was incarcerated in Tehran’s Evin prison on May 8, 2007, on allegations of endangering Iranian national security. During her lengthy confinement, she was denied access to her legal defense team and to independent monitoring bodies such as the ICRC and was allowed only limited contact with her family.For detailed information regarding Haleh Esfandiari’s detention and imprisonment, including a comprehensive timeline of events, please visit Media with questions may reach Sharon McCarter at (202) 691-4016 or The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars is the living, national memorial to President Wilson established by Congress in 1968 and headquartered in Washington, D.C. The Center establishes and maintains a neutral forum for free, open, and informed dialogue. It is a nonpartisan institution, supported by public and private funds and engaged in the study of national and world affairs.

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