The Status of Iranian-Americans Captives
Fox News, June 12, 2007
Jon Scott: A developing story now on the fate of the four Iranian Americans held against their will in Tehran. According to Iran’s Judiciary spokesman, a judge will decide within the next two or three days whether to indict or free the four Iranian Americans charged with endangering Iran’s national security. The four include Haleh Esfandiari, a 67 year-old academic with the Woodrow Wilson center, a consultant for George Soros, a journalist, and a peace activist with UC Irvine.
We are joined now by FOX News
foreign affairs analyst and author, Alireza Jafarzadeh,
author of the
Iran Threat: President Ahmadinejad and the Coming
Nuclear Crisis. So if, Alireza, if they have thrown
this into the hands of Iranian judiciary, does this mean the
guy will have the option to make an independent analysis of
their case and a decision?
Alireza Jafarzadeh: There’s nothing independent in Iran. The entire judiciary is run by the Iranian regime. The whole effort is highly political. I think clearly these individuals, including Haleh Esfandiari, are hostages taken by Tehran for blackmail and for taking concessions from the United States.
This is happening at the time that there are a number of efforts by the United States to make rapprochement with Iran. We had the Sharm el-Sheikh conference in Egypt where the US and Iran participated in the same session. Then we have the bilateral talks in Iraq, where the US and Iran participated, and Iran feels that the US is making overtures towards Iran so this is the best time to gain concessions from the United States and take these hostages to win what they really, actually want from the United States.
Jon Scott: Well what they actually want, does that include the freedom of the five what they call diplomats who have been seized in Iraq, Iranians?
Alireza Jafarzadeh: So called diplomats, exactly as you say Jon. “Diplomats” in the Iranian regime doesn’t mean anything. Definitely on the top of their agenda is to have the release of these five commanders of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, who were the commanders of the Qods Force, the most notorious force within the Revolutionary Guards. Then their second demand is the expulsion of the main Iranian opposition, the Mojahedin e-Khalq, who are based in Iraq. Iran feels that they have done extensive efforts to counter Iranian influence. And, third, Iran demands the departure of the entire US military from Iraq. They feel getting into this game of hostage taking might get them closer to that purpose.
Jon Scott: Well we’ve told the story of Haleh Esfandiari many times. You’ve been on with us to help us do that. This woman is a grandmother, she’s an academic. She’s apparently the least political or the least likely to sort of try to stir some anti-government movement in Iran. What do they gain by holding a person by her?
Well I think holding Haleh Esfandiari has two
implications. One is domestic. One is external.
Externally, as I said, she acts really as a hostage to
try to gain concessions from the United States. But
domestically, I think it falls into the larger trend of
wave of arrests and crackdowns against Iranians and
these are not only the opponents of Tehran. Officially
announced, there were 150,000 arrests of individuals for
improper clothing, announced by the Iranian government.
Seventeen-thousand people were stopped in Tehran’s
Mehrabad airport in the matter of a month and
interrogated. And there were thousands of people
arrested for participation in anti-government
demonstrations by teachers, students, workers. So this
sends a signal to those individuals in Iran that even a
scholar’s voice will not be tolerated, let alone a voice
send to overthrow the regime.
Jon Scott: And those are the kind of people we are fighting in Iraq.
Alireza Jafarzadeh: Absolutely.
Jon Scott: Thanks very much.
Alireza Jafarzadeh is a FOX News Channel Foreign Affairs Analyst and the author of "The Iran Threat: President Ahmadinejad and the Coming Nuclear Crisis" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).
Jafarzadeh has revealed Iran's terrorist network in Iraq and its terror training camps since 2003. He first disclosed the existence of the Natanz uranium enrichment facility and the Arak heavy water facility in August 2002.
Prior to becoming a contributor for FOX, and until August 2003, Jafarzadeh acted for a dozen years as the chief congressional liaison and media spokesman for the U.S. representative office of Iran's parliament in exile, the National Council of Resistance of Iran.