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Iranian TV Shows Incarcerated Imperial Alumnus

Jul 17 2007 00:25
William the Conquerer
Iranian TV has shown what appears to be a forced statement by an Imperial alumnus held on charges of "endangering national security".
Dr Kian Tajbakhsh

Imperial alumnus and respected academic Dr Kian Tajbakhsh has been shown on Iranian TV, two months after his arrest in Iran. Tajbakhsh and Haleh Esfandiari have been held since May on charges of endangering national security, with their arrest provoking an outcry from human rights groups.

Imperial College released the following statement in a press release earlier today:

"Imperial joins the international community in calling on the Iranian government to allow Dr Tajbakhsh legal representation and to provide evidence of the accusations against him."

Tajbakhsh graduated from Imperial in 1983 with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering, before taking an MSc at UCL. He has a PhD in Urban Planning and Policy from Columbia University and is an urban planning consultant with George Soros' Open Society Institute. In the video clip he is seen reading from a piece of paper: "The role of the Soros foundation might have been targeting the world of Islam".

The government in Iran has been clamping down on academic freedoms since conservative president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took power, with academics now facing arrest if they attend conferences in the west. Western academics visiting Iran have also found themselves under suspicion of spying, making the country an academic no-go zone for many.

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Discussion about “Iranian TV Shows Incarcerated Imperial Alumnus”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
Jul 17 2007 09:24
 

maybe he got arrested for his attempt to look like Darius?

2. ...   
Jul 17 2007 23:57
 

Shouldn't that be a bachelors degree?

3. think   
Jul 18 2007 00:05
 

whilst i don't condone the arrest and retaining of innocent people with no access to human rights...this stinks of another attempt at negative propaganda aimed at iran. whilst i cannot comment on the governments supposed policies regarding academics attending conferences, i know for a fact that many iranian academics are freely able to attend conferences in the west, as many of my family members have done so, and not only are they 'allowed' but they are also greatly acclaimed for it by the iranian government!

4. !!!   
Jul 18 2007 09:09
 

He has only been arrested without charge for two months, though. The UK wants to be able to do that to people, and the USA already does that.

Jul 18 2007 09:20
 

Yes, but Britain doesn't parade its prisoners on TV and MPs decided to keep the maximum length of time someone could be held without charge at 28 days.

Jul 18 2007 12:35
 

Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, enough said.

Jul 24 2007 20:49
 

The final paragraph of this article (essentially propaganda lifted off the likes of sky news) should not put anyone off attending conferences in Iran - or Iranian academics visiting the UK.

Jul 24 2007 21:10
 

Yet the BBC, normally accused of being pro-palestine, pro-arab and anti-western because of its "liberal luvvies" is carrying a story on the topic: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/6761663.stm

Jul 25 2007 20:32
 

if 30 academcis have been locked up in 2 months for political activism, as it says on the BBC and elsewhere, publish that. don't make stuff up about researchers facing arrest if they go to conferences - that's just made-up.

Jul 25 2007 21:06
 

OK, try this one:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/6738425.stm

"These arrests of dual nationals have sent shock waves through the huge Iranian diaspora.

They have also prompted many academics to think twice about attending conferences in Iran."

Jul 25 2007 21:11
 

And this one:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/6704987.stm

"A senior Iranian intelligence official has warned Iranian academics to be careful about what they say when attending conferences overseas.

The anti-espionage chief in Tehran, said professors were under threat from foreigners out to obtain information. "

...

"Earlier this month, a former nuclear negotiator for Iran now working in a research centre was arrested on suspicion of spying."

And I've definitely read another story on the BBC or Al Jazeera - which I can't find - about other Iranian academics coming back from conferences in the West and facing arrest or harrassment on the basis of being spies.

Jul 26 2007 00:03
 

"with academics now facing arrest if they attend conferences in the west"

of course you cant find it - because there is no credible news source on the net that would say that. maybe academics do get harassed or detained (neither being a good thing) - but they do not face arrest for attending conferences. that's the same sort of bilge that took us to war on Iraq.

13. Editor   
Jul 26 2007 09:20
 

The source for the disputed comments in the article was The Independent, along with those mentioned above.

"The authorities have responded with a campaign of intimidation, arresting some Iranians who travel to the West, have contact with Western policy organisations or hold dual citizenship. Four Iranian-Americans have recently been charged with "spying" and instigating "a soft revolution" . A former senior nuclear official, Hossain Mousavian, was also briefly detained in early May, suggesting even the political elite is vulnerable.

Iranians are now frequently scared of attending conferences abroad, speaking to foreign journalists on record or working in civil society projects. As a result, Iranian voices in the West are increasingly limited to officials such as the firebrand President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and ?migr? groups bitterly opposed to the Tehran government."

Jul 26 2007 11:49
 

still doesnt add up to "academics now facing arrest if they attend conferences in the west" - which is an innaccurate sweeping statement. Also, if you're going to selectively quote the independent article, then here's the full excerpt:

"A report last month by ABC News in the US revealed presidential backing for a CIA "black operation" to destabilise Iran. An April investigation by the same network linked the Bush administration to Baluchi militants responsible for several bomb attacks near the Pakistan border. Such reports come amid a huge US military build up in the Persian Gulf, attempts to strangle investment in Iran and the seizure of Iranian personnel in Iraq.

The authorities have responded with a campaign of intimidation, arresting some Iranians who travel to the West, have contact with Western policy organisations or hold dual citizenship. Four Iranian-Americans have recently been charged with "spying" and instigating "a soft revolution" . A former senior nuclear official, Hossain Mousavian, was also briefly detained in early May, suggesting even the political elite is vulnerable."

cheerio.

Aug 01 2007 18:32
 

p.s. the International Iran Conference on Quantum Information 2007 - http://iicqi.sharif.ir/participants.htm

An "academic no-go zone" for:

S. Bose [UCL]

R. Duncan [Oxford]

B. Coecke [Oxford]

E. Kashefi [Oxford]

M. B. Plenio [Imperial] - one of the organisers

T. Rudolph [Imperial]

A. Serafini [Imperial] - who's "under suspicion of spying"

Aug 01 2007 23:00
 

So answer me this then - there are only 100 people listed for that conference, of which around 70 are based in Iran. There's a conference in Spain on what appears to be a similar subject the following month which has nearly 30 invited speakers, let alone other participants - i.e. it has more invited speakers than the conference in Iran has participants from Western institutions.

Also, half the western attendees are there because they were invited to give a talk, most of the other half have distinctly Arabic sounding names and I would wager they were from Iran or neighbouring countries and are studying overseas.

If academics in Iran are unaffected, why do they need their own conference? Why don't they go to the one in Spain? Why aren't more from the West going to the one in Iran? Why doesn't the one in Spain this year just go to Iran next year to give them their Quantum Information fix without having to travel?

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