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Middle East
Freed scholar leaves Iran
Iranian-American accused of conspiring against Tehran spent three months in jail.
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2007 03:09 GMT

Esfandiari is accused of creating a 'soft revolution' in Iran[Reuters/Woodrow Wilson Center]

An Iranian-American academic who spent three months in an Iranian jail has left the country and reunited with her family.
 
Haleh Esfandiari, 67, flew to Austria late on Sunday, one day after the authorities returned her passport.
 
"After a long and difficult ordeal, I am elated to be on my way back to my home and my family," Esfandiari said.
"These last eight months, that included 105 days in solitary confinement in Evin prison, have not been easy," a statement issued by her employer, the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars, said.
 
"But I wish to put this episode behind me and to look to the future, not to the past."
Family and colleagues said they felt great relief at the end of the crisis that added to tensions between Iran and the US.
 
Esfandiari was released on bail in August, picked up her passport and flew from Iran to Austria, where her sister lives, said her daughter, Haleh Bakhash.
 

"After a long and difficult ordeal, I am elated to be on my way back to my home and my family"

Haleh Esfandiari

She was reunited with her husband and plans to spend about a week there before heading home to the US, Bakhash said.
Abdol Fattah Soltani, Esfandiari's lawyer, said she booked a flight immediately after getting her passport back on Sunday.
 
Esfandiari was prevented from leaving Iran since the authorities seized her passport in January and interrogated regularly. She was arrested and imprisoned in May until her 93-year-old mother posted bail using the deed to her Tehran apartment.
 
The Iranian intelligence ministry accused Esfandiari and the Wilson Centre of trying to set up networks of Iranians ultimately aimed at creating a "soft revolution'' in Iran, charges both her husband and the centre have denied.
 
Esfandiari is one of several Iranian-Americans who have been detained or are facing security-related charges in Iran.
Source:
Agencies
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