- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 29, 2007

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — U.S. academic Haleh Esfandiari and two other Iranian-Americans have been charged with endangering national security and espionage, Iran’s judiciary spokesman said yesterday.

“Esfandiari has been formally charged with endangering national security through propaganda against the system and espionage for foreigners. … The complainant is the Intelligence Ministry,” judiciary spokesman Ali Reza Jamshidi told reporters.

“She has been informed of the charges against her,” he said in response to a reporter’s question.

Mr. Jamshidi did not say when the specific charges had been read to Mrs. Esfandiari, director of the Middle East Program at the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars. She has been held at Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison since early May.

Mr. Jamshidi said the same charges also had been lodged against journalist Parnaz Azima and Kian Tajbakhsh, an urban-planning consultant who also has worked for the World Bank. No trial date has been announced, and Mr. Jamshidi said the investigation against the three is continuing.

Ms. Azima, who works for the U.S.-funded Radio Farda, was detained but released and barred from leaving the country.

The State Department said it had no information about any formal charges being filed and that Iranian authorities had not responded to requests from the Swiss, who represent U.S. interests in Iran, for access to the detainees.

Mrs. Esfandiari’s husband, Shaul Bakhash, said from his home in Potomac, Md., that the charges “are totally without foundation, whether it is espionage or propaganda against the Islamic Republic.”

Mr. Bakhash said Mrs. Esfandiari is being represented by the law firm of 2003 Nobel Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, but the Iranian government has refused access to Mrs. Esfandiari.

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