Iranian-American scholar Haleh Esfandiari left Iran earlier this week after eight months of detention. Dr. Esfandiari, director of the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Middle East Program, was prevented from leaving Iran to return to the US after visiting her ailing mother in December 2006. Iran accused her of being a threat to Iranian national security, and held her at Evin prison, which is notorious for its treatment of political prisoners. Her imprisonment included 105 days in solitary confinement.
“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 have not been easy. But I wish to put this episode behind me and to look to the future, not to the past,” Dr. Esfandiari said in a statement. Shortly after reclaiming her passport, Dr. Esfandiari left Iran and joined family in Vienna. She will return to the US shortly, but may need to return to Iran when her case is sent to court.
Thousands of Feminist Majority Foundation online activists sent emails to officials in Iran, demanding that Dr. Esfandiari — an advocate for peace and women’s rights — be immediately released.