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Cablegate: Demarche Request: Urging Iran to Resolve Amcit

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DE RUEHC #9480 3521809
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O R 181807Z DEC 09
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S E C R E T STATE 129480

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/17/2019
TAGS: CASC IR PGOV PHUM PINR PREL PROP PTER IT NZ TU ID
IN, BR, NO, IZ, MU, AE, QA, FR, GM, CA, NL, BE, AU, SW, MX, SF, MY,
JA, TX, CH
SUBJECT: DEMARCHE REQUEST: URGING IRAN TO RESOLVE AMCIT
CASES

REF: A. 09STATE94757
B. 09BAGHDAD2181
C. 09PARIS1046
D. 09ASHGABAT993

Classified By: NEA Assistant Secretary Jeffrey Feltman
for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (U) This is an action request for Embassies Rome,
Canberra, Ankara, Jakarta, New Delhi, Brasilia, Oslo,
Baghdad, Muscat, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Paris, Berlin, Ottawa, The
Hague, Brussels, Vienna, Stockholm, Mexico City, Pretoria,
Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, Ashgabat, Beijing, and the U.S. Mission
to the European Union. Please see the action request in
paragraph 5.

2. (C) SUMMARY. The Department is closely monitoring the
cases of six American citizens, Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd,
Josh Fattal, Kian Tajbakhsh, Reza Taghavi, and Robert
Levinson, who are unjustly detained or missing in Iran. We
ask action posts to raise these cases with relevant
interlocutors and request their assistance in urging Iran,s
leadership ) through the local Iranian Embassy and/or the
host country,s mission in Tehran ) to resolve these six
American cases. The Secretary demonstrated the USG,s
concern in her August 15 statement calling for the safe
return of all missing or unjustly detained American citizens
to the United States as quickly as possible so that they can
be reunited with their families. This request was reiterated
in the Secretary,s December 3 statement to commemorate the
1,000th day of Robert Levinson,s disappearance. On November
25, the White House stated, &The Iranian government cannot
earn the respect of the international community when it
violates universal rights, and continues to imprison innocent
people.8 END SUMMARY.

---------
Rationale
---------

3. (S) The Department is directing selected posts to request
assistance from the host government (and from Brussels in the
case of USEU) in pressing the Government of Iran to resolve
the cases of six American citizens who are missing or
unjustly detained in Iran, namely: Robert Levinson, who
disappeared in March 2007 on Kish Island; Kian Tajbakhsh, who
was sentenced on October 19 to 15 years in prison on charges
of violating national security; Reza Taghavi, who has been in
prison without formal charges since May 26, 2008; and Shane
Bauer, Sarah Shourd, and Josh Fattal, who have been detained
without formal charges since July 31, 2009 when they were
hiking near the Iranian-Iraqi border.

4. (S) The goal of the demarche is to secure support from a
diverse range of diplomatic allies who can positively
influence Iran,s decision-making on this critical issue,
with arguments solely based on humanitarian grounds rather
than political, to try to take the issue out of the bilateral
context.

---------------
Action Request
---------------

5. (C) Posts are requested to approach appropriate host
government officials as soon as feasible and request
assistance in urging the Iranian government ) through the
resident Iranian Embassy and/or the host country,s mission
in Tehran ) to release the six American citizens as a
humanitarian gesture. Post should draw from the points in
paragraph 7, which may be left as a nonpaper.

---------------
Objectives
---------------

6. (C) Posts should seek to achieve the following:

-- Emphasize the United States, commitment to the protection
of American citizens abroad.

-- Convey that international interest in the six cases will
remain high until a just outcome is reached.

-- Request the host government,s assistance in pressing the
Iranians to release the six Americans as a humanitarian
gesture and sending Iran a message not to politicize their
cases. For the case of Robert Levinson, convey the
importance of resolving his whereabouts.

-- Convey the importance of raising all six cases, not just
those that are better known, such as the three hikers.

-- Convey to your interlocutors that should the Iranians
raise the issue of missing or detained Iranian nationals in
the United States, they should inform the Iranians that the
United States is willing to consider these concerns once they
are officially communicated to the Department via the Iranian
Interests Section at the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington,
DC, as the United States has done with its cases via its
Swiss Protecting Power in Tehran.

---------------------------
Talking Points / Non-paper
---------------------------

7. (SBU) Begin talking points / nonpaper:

-- Ensuring the safety and security of American citizens
overseas is a priority for the United States. As
demonstrated in Secretary Clinton,s August 15 statement, the
United States is deeply concerned about the welfare of our
American citizens who have been detained or are missing in
Iran. These are fundamentally humanitarian concerns; none of
these people should be used for political gain. This request
was reiterated in the Secretary,s December 3 statement to
commemorate the 1,000th day of Robert Levinson,s
disappearance. On November 25, the White House stated, &The
Iranian government cannot earn the respect of the
international community when it violates universal rights,
and continues to imprison innocent people.8 We once again
urge Iran,s leadership to quickly resolve all outstanding
American citizen cases.

-- This includes the case of the American scholar, Kian
Tajbakhsh, who has spent his career working to improve the
quality of life of the people in Iran, through his work as an
urban planner. The government of Iran should commute his
sentence and immediately release Mr. Tajbakhsh and allow him
to depart Iran. On November 25, the White House made a
statement expressing our concern for Kian,s unjust
detainment.

-- Regarding the three American hikers, Joshua Fattal, Shane
Bauer, and Sarah Shourd, who were detained by Iranian
authorities on July 31, after accidentally crossing the
border from Iraq, we call on the Iranian government to permit
these three American citizens immediate contact with their
families and to release them without further delay.

-- Reza Taghavi, a 71 year-old retired businessman in failing
health, was taken into custody on May 26, 2008 and remains
imprisoned without formal charges. The government of Iran
should immediately release Mr. Taghavi from detention and
allow him to depart Iran.

-- We also remain concerned about the case of Robert
Levinson, who has been missing in Iran since March 9, 2007.
We call on the Government of Iran to provide any and all
information it may have on his whereabouts and to assist in
ensuring his prompt and safe return to the United States.

-- Our goal is to ensure the safe return of all our missing
or unjustly detained American citizens to the United States
as quickly as possible so that they can be reunited with
their families.

End points

-----------
Background
-----------

8. (C) The hikers: On July 31, Iranian authorities detained
Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd, and Josh Fattal while hiking near
the Iraq/Iran border. On August 11, the Swiss Ambassador to
Iran received confirmation by phone of the detention of three
American hikers from the Iranian Vice Minister for Europe,
and was granted consular access on two occasions, September
29 and October 29. The Swiss Ambassador and SPP continue to
follow up with the MFA and the Iranian Mission in Bern with
little success despite repeated requests for the three hikers
to contact their loved ones and for additional consular
visits. Having given the Iranian government time to resolve
the case quietly, the families are now publicizing their
concerns about their children,s welfare and have enlisted
Congressional, Executive, and Foreign Mission support. The
Secretary released a statement on August 15 on the five AmCit
cases in Iran (the hikers, Tajbakhsh, and Levinson).

9. (C) Kian Tajbakhsh: Iranian authorities arrested dual
U.S.-Iranian citizen scholar Kian Tajbakhsh in his home in
Tehran on July 9 and he remains in prison. An expert on
urban planning, he used to work in Iran in association with
the Open Society Institute. Kian was sentenced to 15 years
in prison on October 19 on charges of violating national
security; he has filed an appeal, but a court date has not
been set. In 2007, he was arrested along with
Iranian-American scholar Haleh Esfandiari on charges of
endangering Iran,s national security and released four
months later. According to Iranian media, during the August
1 show trial Tajbakhsh and Iranian-Canadian Newsweek reporter
Maziar Bahari both &confessed8 to being part of a
conspiracy funded by Western NGOs and propagated by the media
to bring about a victory for Mousavi. Tajbakhsh,s family is
actively raising his case with the media and has requested
USG involvement in doing the same.

10. (C) Reza Taghavi: Iranian authorities arrested dual
U.S.-Iranian citizen Reza Taghavi in his home in Tehran on
May 26, 2008 and he remains in prison. He has been accused
of espionage and fomenting a &velvet8 revolution, although
no official charges have been lodged against him. He was
initially held in the political section of Evin Prison, but
has since been moved to the &normal8 section of the prison.
The Taghavi family initially did not seek USG involvement,
due to the potential negative affect it could have on his
case. The family changed their minds following the
cancellation of his court hearing on August 10. Mr. Taghavi
appeared before a court on November 25, where he asked for
his release, but the judge did not make any comments; another
trial date has been set for February 18, 2010. Pierre
Prosper, attorney and former Ambassador of War Crimes Issues,
represents the Taghavi case in the U.S.

11. (S) Robert Levinson: The former FBI agent was last seen
on Kish Island on March 9, 2007. Although the Iranians
consistently deny knowing what happened to Levinson, we have
strong reason to suspect that he is being detained in Iran.
Levinson family members continue to lobby for greater USG
activity and media attention to the case. While Iranian
authorities promised the Levinson family they would share the
results of their investigation, that promise has yet to be
fulfilled.

----------------------
Reporting Requirement
----------------------

12. (U) Post is instructed to report the results of its
efforts by January 8.

----------------
Point of Contact
----------------

13. (U) Department POCs for follow-up are: Michael G. Spring,
NEA/IR, 202-647-2516, SpringMG@State.gov; Brianne Marwaha,
NEA/IR, 202-647-2569, MarwahaBC@State.gov; and Carolee
Walker, CA/OCS/ACS/NESCA, 202-647-4997, WalkerCB@State.gov

14. (U) Department thanks posts for its assistance. Please
slug all responses for NEA/IR, CA, P, and the NSC.
CLINTON

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