May 24, 2007

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




WASHINGTON - The U.S. Senate today passed a resolution introduced by Maryland Senators Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) and Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD) 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.

"I am pleased that the Senate has acted quickly and decisively in calling on Iran to release Dr. Esfandiari from prison," said Senator Cardin, Co-Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission. "Dr. Esfrandiari is a 67-year-old grandmother who a victim of Iran's policy of harassment. She belongs back with her family and Maryland and I urge the Iranians to release her now."

"I applaud the Senate's passage of this resolution. This is an important signal to Iran that the United States Senate is engaged and concerned with their treatment of Dr. Esfandiari," said Senator Mikulski. "I urge the Iranian government to make a gesture of goodwill to the American people by immediately releasing Ms. Esfandiari and expediting her safe return."

Senators Joseph Lieberman, D-CT, Gordon Smith, R-OR, and Hillary Clinton, D-NY, 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.