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Iran expands probe of detained Iranian-American scholars

[JURIST] Iranian judiciary spokesperson Alireza Jamshidi said Tuesday that government prosecutors have expanded their investigations against Iranian-American scholars Dr. Haleh Esfandiari [WWC profile], director of the Middle East Program at the DC-based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh [OSI press release], a consultant with the Open Society Institute, after obtaining new evidence supporting charges of endangering national security. Esfandiari, accused of being involved in an alleged plot "against the sovereignty of the country" [JURIST report], has been in solitary confinement for over 60 days. The Wilson Center rejected the allegations that Iran has discovered new evidence as "totally without merit" [press release, DOC], and urged the Iranian government to release Esfandiari. The Open Society Institute said it was "dismayed by the Iranian government's announcement of new allegations," adding that the Iranian government has provided no evidence to "substantiate any allegations of wrongdoing" [press release] since Tajbakhsh's arrest on May 11 [JURIST report].

In June, Iranian 2003 Nobel Peace Prize laureate and human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi [advocacy website, in Persian; JURIST news archive] accused the Iranian government of interfering in judicial affairs to prevent Esfandiari's release [JURIST report]. Ebadi has also accused the Iranian government of denying lawyers' access to Esfandiari [JURIST report]. AP has more.

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