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Iran's Government Jails A Critic

Two leading academic associations have joined those calling for the release of Ramin Jahanbegloo by Iranian authorities.

In a joint letter to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Middle East Studies Association of North America and the International Society for Iranian Studies said Mr. Jahanbegloo's "arbitrary arrest and lengthy interrogation represent a direct attack on the principles of academic freedom and critical intellectual inquiry."

Mr. Jahanbegloo, a political theorist, heads the office of contemporary studies at the non-governmental Cultural Research Bureau in Tehran. He holds both Iranian and Canadian citizenship, and is the author of more than twenty books and over a dozen articles on democracy, culture, and non-violence.

Mr. Jahanbegloo was arrested and taken to Evin prison after he gave a series of interviews to Western media outlets. He also published an article objecting to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's remarks denying the Holocaust, the murder of six million Jews by Nazi Germany during the Second World War.

Earlier this month, the press-freedom monitoring organization Reporters Without Borders called Ramin Jahanbegloo's imprisonment an "outrage." Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director of Human Rights Watch, said the "arbitrary arrest of Ramin Jahanbegloo shows the perilous state of academic freedom and free speech in Iran today. This prominent scholar should be celebrated for his academic achievements, not interrogated in one of Iran's most infamous prisons," said Mr. Stork.

The imprisonment of Mr. Jahanbegloo is an example of what U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice calls "the organized cruelty of Iran's theocratic state." In Iran, says Ms. Rice, "an oppressive regime. . . .denies [the Iranian people] their liberty and their rights":

"The Iranian people, ladies and gentlemen, are capable of liberty. They desire liberty. And they deserve liberty."

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.