Iran Releases Scholar Haleh Esfandiari Haleh Esfandiari, director of the Woodrow Wilson Center's Middle East Program, was released from prison in Iran Tuesday. Esfandiari, whom the Iranian government accused of being a spy, was released on $333,000 bail.
NPR logo

Iran Releases Scholar Haleh Esfandiari

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Iran Releases Scholar Haleh Esfandiari

Iran Releases Scholar Haleh Esfandiari

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


An Iranian-American professor has been released from prison in Iran. Haleh Esfandiari, who runs the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson Center, had been detained for the last three months. Iran accused her of being a spy. The Wilson Center said she was in Iran to visit her 93-year-old mother.

Esfandiari was released today on $333,000 bail. She is still in Iran and there is no word yet on when she'll be allowed to return to the United States.

We're joined now by her husband, Shaul Bakhash. Welcome to the program.

Professor SHAUL BAKHASH (George Mason University): Thank you. Glad to be with you.

BRAND: Well, how do you feel right now?

Prof. BAKHASH: Well, I'm absolutely delighted that she's out of prison now after three and a half months, and I hope very much that she'll be able to join her family here in the United States very soon.

BRAND: Have you been able to speak with her?

Prof. BAKHASH: I spoke to her at her mother's home just a few minutes ago. She sounded well, clearly very delighted to be free from being in prison, and hoping that she'll have her passport as soon as possible.

BRAND: So that she can return home.

Prof. BAKHASH: Indeed, yes.

BRAND: Did she tell you at all how she was treated in - when she was in prison?

Prof. BAKHASH: She said she was treated well. But we didn't have a chance to talk about details.

BRAND: Mm-hmm. You didn't have the chance to talk about it. Why was she allowed to post bail?

Prof. BAKHASH: Well, look, she's been in prison for three and a half months. It's quite a while since the investigation was completed. I guess they're done with whatever questions they had.

BRAND: And so it appears that she won't be charged with spying or anything like that?

Prof. BAKHASH: We don't know the conditions of her release. I think the charges that the government talks about last were working against national security. But I hope they will not press charges like that were without foundation to begin with.

BRAND: And were people in the U.S. government, at the State Department or elsewhere, were they working to get her release?

Prof. BAKHASH: Well, the U.S. has no relations with Iran. Obviously there was a very limited amount that they could do.

BRAND: But behind the scenes, anyone working with Iranian authorities?

Prof. BAKHASH: I don't think there was any contact between the U.S. and the Iranian authorities about my wife.

BRAND: So basically you just had to sit and wait and hope for the best?

Prof. BAKHASH: Well, after all, there's been a great deal of media attention to her case, which has been very helpful. And I think many people of goodwill, both outside and in Iran, have worked for the release and we are grateful to all of them for what they have done to help her get out of prison.

BRAND: Well, congratulations. You must be very excited to see your wife finally.

Prof. BAKHASH: I am. I'm looking forward (static) and I hope they release her to come home very soon.

BRAND: Shaul Bakhash, thank you very much for joining us.

Prof BAKHASH: Thank you.

BRAND: That's Shaul Bakhash. He is married to Haleh Esfandiari. She's a scholar who's been detained in Iran for the last three and a half months, runs the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson Center. And she's just been released from prison and is awaiting her return home to the United States.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.