Friday, June 8, 2007

Sticking It to America: Iran Detains U.S. Activists

The leaders of Iran continue stir the diplomatic pot, admitting for the first time today that they are holding a fourth Iranian-American citizen on security charges.

Ali Shakeri, a peace activist from Lake Forest, Calif., holds dual citizenship. His detention by Iranian officials was reported today by the Associated Press, citing a report from the semiofficial Iranian Student News Agency.

Besides Shakeri, the Iranians are holding three other Iranian-Americans . They are Haleh Esfandiari, a scholar associated with the Woodrow Wilson Center; Kian Tajbakhsh, a planner with the Open Society Institute; and radio journalist Parnaz Azima. The three have been charged with espionage, charges that have been disputed by their families and U.S. officials.

To its credit, the Bush Administration has objected to these detentions. The AP quoted Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as saying the Americans were "being wrongly held" and "being accused of things that clearly are untrue." The President himself has also spoken out, demanding the unconditional release of the four Americans.

As regular readers of AltTulsa will know, we believe in ideas, as well as the free and unfettered expression of those ideas. That's why we agree with the Bush Administration. Iranian-American citizens ought to have the right to work in and visit their home country free from government harassment.

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