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Iran makes new arrests in case against Iranian-American scholars

[JURIST] Iranian Intelligence Minister Gholam Hossein Ejehei said Wednesday that new arrests have been made in the conspiracy cases against Dr. Haleh Esfandiari [WWC profile], director of the Middle East Program at the DC-based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars [organization website], and Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh [OSI press release], a consultant with the Open Society Institute [organization website]. Ejehei did not release the names of those arrested, but said he is "hopeful their names and reasons of detention will be announced." Iran has not yet said exactly how many new people were arrested.

Esfandiari is accused of being involved in an alleged plot "against the sovereignty of the country" and there have been allegations that the two scholars were involved in a plot against the government. Earlier this month, Iran said that prosecutors had expanded their investigations [JURIST report] into the alleged conspiracy after finding evidence supporting charges of endangering national security. 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]. Esfandiari has been in solitary confinement for over 60 days. AP has more.

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