Cablegate: Demarche: Detained/Missing Americans in Iran
DE RUEHC #7328/01 1572319
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 051523Z JUN 07
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 8579-8580
RUEHDIR/IRAN RPO DUBAI PRIORITY 0008-0009
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 STATE 077328
C O R R E C T E D C O P Y - CAPTION ADDED
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM IR PREL PGOV KDEM
SUBJECT: DEMARCHE: DETAINED/MISSING AMERICANS IN IRAN
REF: A. STATE 68161
B. TOKYO 2358
STATE 00077328 001.2 OF 002
1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The Department understands that the GOJ has
expressed a willingness to raise the case of detained AmCit
Kian Tajbakhsh with Iranian officials in Tokyo, but has asked
for a formal request from the USG to do so. Based on the
Department's request to raise the case of Dr. Haleh
Esfandiari earlier this month (Reftels A, B), FM Aso raised
the issue of detained AmCits in general terms only. The
Department asks post to request that GOJ officials again
reach out to their Iranian counterparts to raise not only
Kian Tajbakhsh's detention, but the cases of Haleh
Esfandiari, Parnaz Azima, Ali Shakeri and Robert Levinson as
well. END SUMMARY.
2. (SBU) Begin Objectives.
-- Thank the GOJ for Foreign Minister Aso having raised the
issue of Americans detained in Iran with FM Mottaki.
-- Raise the issue of other AmCits detained or missing in
Iran using background points below and provided in Reftel A.
Emphasize the high level of interest in these cases within
the USG, as evidenced by the June 1 Statement by the
President on the Detention of American Citizens by the
Iranian Regime (available at www.whitehouse.gov). Stress
that these cases represent a disturbing pattern of harassment
of innocent citizens.
-- Convey that we believe it is within the power of the
Iranian government to assist in returning these individuals
to their families.
3.(U) Begin Background.
(U) Kian Tajbakhsh is an Iranian-American social scientist
and urban planner who works as a consultant for the Open
Society Institute. He has worked as a consultant in the
areas of local government reform, urban planing and social
policy, and has taught at universities in the United States
and Iran. On/around May 11, while Tajbakhsh was visiting
Iran on personal travel, Iranian authorities arrested and
imprisoned him. An Iranian judiciary spokesperson later
announced on May 29 that Tajbakhsh, along with Haleh
Esfandiari and Parnaz Azima (see below), had been charged
with endangering national security and espionage.
(U) Parnaz "Nazi" Azima is an Iranian-American journalist for
Radio Farda based in Prague. Iranian officials confiscated
her passports at the Tehran airport on January 25 as she was
entering Iran to visit her mother. Azima has not been
imprisoned, but she has tried unsuccessfully on several
occasions to retrieve her passports from Iranian authorities,
who finally summoned her to appear at the Revolutionary Court
on May 15. In court, the judge interrogated Azima for four
hours, accused her of antiregime propaganda and ordered her
to pay a bond of 800,000,000 Iranian Rials. Later, on May
29, a judiciary spokesman also identified Azima, together
with Esfandiari and Tajbakhsh as a spy who has been charged
with endangering national security and espionage. Azima's
lawyer denies that she was ever charged with these crimes.
She remains out of prison at her mother's house in Tehran,
but is unable to leave Iran.
(U) Ali Shakeri works as a mortgage broker and peace activist
in Irvine, California, and is a founding board member of the
Center for Citizen Peacebuilding at the University of
California at Irvine. He traveled to Iran in March to visit
his sick mother (NOTE: Shakeri's mother has since died) and
was arrested by Iranian authorities on/around May 8. While
the judiciary spokesman who publicly charged Tajbakhsh
Esfandiari and Azima with revolutionary actions on May 29 did
not identify Shakeri with that group, Shakeri remains in
STATE 00077328 002.2 OF 002
prison in Iran without charges.
(U) Robert A. Levinson is a retired FBI Special Agent who
traveled to Kish Island, Iran on March 8 on personal travel.
Reports indicate that he checked into the Maryam Hotel in
Kish Island that day, and that two Iranian officials later
escorted him out of his hotel room for "questioning" that
evening. Mr. Levinson has not been seen or heard from since.
The USG has sent multiple "Swiss Note" messages to Iran via
the Swiss Protecting Power in Tehran, and Levinson's wife,
Christine, has spoken directly with Iranian PermRep Zarif at
the UN in New York, but so far there had been no additional
information about his whereabouts. Levinson has seven
children and one grandchild, and recently missed his 33rd
wedding anniversary on May 11.
POINT OF CONTACT
4. (SBU) The POC for this request is Rob McInturff in the
Office of Iranian Affairs (202-647-2520).