May 22, 2007

CARDIN, MIKULSKI INTRODUCE RESOLUTION CALLING FOR RELEASE OF MARYLAND SCHOLAR FROM IRANIAN PRISON




WASHINGTON - Maryland Senators Benjamin L. Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski today introduced a resolution calling on the Iranian government to drop all charges against Dr. Haleh Esfandiari and immediately release her from prison.

Dr. Esfandiari, a resident of Potomac, MD, has dual Iranian and U.S. citizenship. She is Director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center and has been detained in Iran since December 2006. On May 8, she was imprisoned in Evin Prison, and on May 21 she was charged with trying to topple the regime.

"Dr. Esfandiari is a distinguished scholar who traveled to Iran in December to visit her 93-year-old mother," said Senator Cardin, Co-Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission. "Prior to her imprisonment, the Iranian government subjected her to months of interrogation. The Iranian government is pursing a policy of harassment and I urge it to drop all charges and release her at once."

"Iran's unlawful and unjust imprisonment of Haleh Esfandiari does nothing to help build trust between our two countries," said Senator Mikulski. "Dr. Esfandiari must be immediately and safely returned to her family in Maryland."

Senator Joseph Lieberman, D-CT, joined Senators Cardin and Mikulski in sponsoring the resolution. U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, (D-MD-8) has introduced a similar resolution in the House of Representatives.