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The United States is calling on Iranian authorities to release U.S. citizen Kian Tajbakhsh. The Iranian-American scholar was detained in the aftermath of Iran's disputed presidential election. He was one of 4 Iranian-Americans who were imprisoned in Iran for several months in 2007 and then released.
U.S. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said that the U.S. is "deeply concerned" about Mr. Tajbakhsh's unjust detainment:
"It's unfortunate that the Iranian government is making choices that only serve to isolate Iran from the international community. We urge the Iranian authorities to immediately release Kian Tajbakhsh as
well as return the passports of all Americans being kept in Iran on groundless charges."
Mr. Kelly said that included Esha Momeni, an Iranian-American graduate student who was detained by authorities for a month in 2008, before being released from prison. She has been barred from leaving Iran since November 2008. In addition, Mr. Kelly again called on the Iranian government "to be forthcoming with information toward determining the whereabouts of Robert Levinson, who's been missing in Iran since March 8, 2007. Mr. Levinson, a former FBI agent, had travelled to Iran on a private business trip when he disappeared on Kish Island.
Mr. Kelly also voiced deep U.S. concern over "any harassment, intimidation, and imprisonment of journalists on groundless charges." Reporters without Borders, the Paris-based press freedom organization, recently reported that 41 Iranian journalists and bloggers have been detained in the aftermath of the disputed June 12 presidential election in Iran.
As President Barack Obama said, "Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away":
"The Iranian people have a universal right to assembly and free speech. If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect those rights and heed the will of its own people. It must govern through consent and not coercion."
"That's what Iran's own people are calling for," said President Obama, "and the Iranian people will ultimately judge the actions of their own government."