The American Iranian Council has released this statement condemning the arrests of dual nationals:
The American Iranian Council protests, in strongest terms, the arrest of several Iranian-Americans by the Iranian Government, demands their immediate release, and asks that they be justly treated while in the Iranian Government’s custody. The arrestees include Dr. Haleh Esfandiary, Dr. Kian Tajbahksh, and Mr. Ali Shakeri, all individuals with unquestionable backgrounds. Whether these arrests are specifically designed to mirror US moves in Iraq against the Iranian diplomats, is a new right-wing approach to silencing the voices of democratic activists and facilitators, or founded upon perceived or misunderstood activities by the arrestees, their negative and corrosive effects upon the US-Iranian relationship and on the Iranian-American community should not be ignored. The US-Iranian “spiral conflict” is fed by moves such as this and the Council believes that both sides must work hard not only to avoid such moves but to act in ways which are positive and productive.
The AIC urges the Iranian Government to recognize the rights of these and other Iranian-Americans (including Ms. Farnaz Azima, who is being prevented from leaving Iran) and uphold the principles of due process. If the Iranian Government will not free these Iranian-Americans, then the Government should accept its responsibility to make all evidences for and against them public. The Iranian Government should further allow the accused to be represented by attorneys in a manner consistent with the principles of an open and impartial judicial system. The Iranian Government is further requested to consider more carefully their dual citizenship. They are both Iranians and Americans and should not be treated, one moment, as if they are Americans, and on another moment, as if they are Iranians. For nearly 3 decades, Iranian-Americans have sought to maintain their public and private relations with Iran. Such arrests place an undue strain on an already difficult relationship.
The Council also urges greater reflection upon the role of the Open Society Institute (OSI) in this episode. The OSI is a private organization dedicated to enhancing the democratic principles of political openness and economic liberalism throughout the world. There is simply no evidence that the OSI is an agency that engages in overthrowing regimes by legal or illegal means. While the OSI remains a firm advocate for these principles, it can and does remain a friend of the Iranian people and impartial toward Iran’s domestic politics. The same is the case with the Wilson Center for International Scholars. The organization is by no means set up to promote revolutions, velvet or other types. It also promotes the principles of good society and good government, and its positions vis-à-vis the Iranian Government has been balanced and fair. At a time when relations between the two countries are deeply troubled by fact and fiction, it is important that efforts at promoting people-to-people exchanges continue unabated. The Council certainly hopes that this will be the case.