New York, NY, August 21, 2007—PEN American Center welcomed today’s release on bail of Dr. Haleh Esfandiari, Director of the Middle East Program for the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and also a dual U.S. and Iranian citizen. Dr. Esfandiari was prevented from returning to the U.S. after visiting her mother in Tehran in December and was arrested without warrant or explanation on May 8, 2007 and transferred to Evin prison. She was released on bail of 3 billion rial, approximately $324,000, according to local news reports.

PEN is concerned, however, that no news has been announced regarding Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh, who was arrested just a few days after Dr. Esfandiari. Dr. Tajbakhsh, who is a senior research fellow at the New School in New York and who has worked on projects with the World Bank and Open Society Institute, was arrested at his home in Tehran on or about May 11, 2007. He has now spent more than 100 days in detention at Evin Prison. PEN American Center sent letters to Iranian authorities protesting the arrest and detention of both scholars in May and encouraged PEN members and supporters to voice their concern as well.

It is not clear whether Dr. Esfandiari will be allowed to leave Iran.

More information:

 Larry Siems, (212) 334-1660 ext. 105