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Iran challenged over US professor

BBC News
Jim Muir
BBC Tehran correspondent

A senior Iranian official has expressed concern over the continued detention of an Iranian-born American professor.

Dariush Zahedi was arrested on suspicion of spying during a summer visit to his family in Tehran.

The hardline judiciary has refused to release him even though he has been cleared of the charges, said Mohsen Mirdamadi, a senior parliamentarian.

International human rights groups and the US State Department have expressed concern over professor Zahedi's fate.

Solitary confinement

Dariush Zahedi emigrated to the United States in his teens.

He is now a political science professor, teaching classes at the University of California.

Like many Iranian-born Americans he returned home in June to visit his family.

He was arrested in Tehran at the request of the intelligence ministry on suspicion of spying.

After a lengthy investigation, the ministry concluded he was innocent and recommended he be freed.

However, according to the head of the Iranian parliament's foreign affairs and national security committee, Mohsen Mirdamadi, the hardline judiciary refused to comply.

He said the judiciary took Professor Zahedi from the intelligence ministry's custody and transferred him to "a parallel intelligence apparatus".

Mr Mirdamadi expressed fears that Mr Zahedi would be subjected to long periods of solitary confinement and other pressures which might force him into a false confession.

Precedent set

He compared the case with that of Zahra Kazemi, an Iranian-born Canadian who died in July from a blow to the head while in custody after a similar dispute between the intelligence ministry and the judiciary.

Mr Mirdamadi said that by law the ministry alone had the right to investigate and decide on cases of possible espionage.

He said his committee would be taking up Professor Zahedi's case.

The reformist-dominated parliament, and the intelligence ministry which is also largely reformist these days, are already involved in a bitter dispute with the judiciary over the case of Zahra Kazemi's death.

Although the case has gone to trial with an intelligence ministry interrogator in the dock, the parliament has issued a detailed report accusing the Tehran public prosecutor of tampering with evidence and perverting the course of justice.
5 posted on 11/02/2003 2:23:46 AM PST by F14 Pilot
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To: All
Iranians at odds over jailed lecturer

The Washington Times
Nov 1st, 2003

TEHRAN (AP) — Iranian hard-liners have refused to release a jailed University of California lecturer despite demands from government officials, a top lawmaker said yesterday, expressing fears he could meet the same fate as a Canadian photojournalist who was killed while in custody.

Dariush Zahedi, an Iranian-born American citizen who lectures at the University of California, Berkeley, has been held since July, when he was detained on suspicion of espionage while visiting relatives in Iran.

Mohsen Mirdamadi, who heads the Iranian parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, said the Intelligence Ministry, which is dominated by reformists, has requested his release. But officials in the judiciary, which is controlled by hard-liners, have refused.

"The outcome is that they keep such people in solitary confinement for a long time and put him under various pressures to confess to espionage," Mr. Mirdamadi said, according to Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency.

Mr. Mirdamadi said if Mr. Zahedi "resists pressures" during questioning to confess to the espionage charges, "the story of Zahra Kazemi may repeat and [judiciary officials] won't accept responsibility."
Mrs. Kazemi, 54, died July 10 after suffering fatal head injuries during 77 hours of interrogation. She was detained June 23 while taking photos outside north Tehran's Evin prison during student-led protests.

Tehran's hard-line prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi accused Mrs. Kazemi of spying, but parliament has issued a report saying there was no basis for that charge and accused Mr. Mortazavi of covering up the killing.

Mr. Zahedi is being held in the same prison Mrs. Kazemi was detained in.
He was supposed to teach a class on war and peace in the Middle East.
6 posted on 11/02/2003 2:27:42 AM PST by F14 Pilot
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To: F14 Pilot
Thanks for the heads up!
8 posted on 11/02/2003 7:12:33 AM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: F14 Pilot
Freedom ~ Now!
17 posted on 11/02/2003 8:01:33 AM PST by blackie
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To: F14 Pilot
Islamofascist regime must be deposed--cannot be reformed.

25 posted on 11/02/2003 4:46:37 PM PST by PhilDragoo (Hitlery: das Butch von Buchenvald)
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