Shaul Bakhash: Interviewed on PBS about his wife's ordeal

Historians in the News

[Shaul Bakhash is a historian at George Mason University. He is married to Haleh Esfandiari, the American citizen and the director of the Middle Eastern program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington who has been accused by Iran of spying.]

JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, Professor Bakhash, your wife, Haleh Esfandiari, couldn't leave Iran since December, has been in prison since earlier in May. What's the latest on her condition?

SHAUL BAKHASH, George Mason University: Well, as in the previous case, we have no information about her condition in prison. The only thing she's allowed is a very brief telephone call, usually lasting under a minute, to her mother in Tehran, in which she can ask after the health of her grandchildren and say she's OK. But we feel there's a minder standing right next to her.

So we have no idea as to her condition, and they have denied access to the family. They've denied access to the lawyers.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you hear anything through third channels?

SHAUL BAKHASH: No, so we do not know how she's being treated in prison. And this is a prison which is notorious for its interrogation methods.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Has she been charged with something?

SHAUL BAKHASH: She hasn't been officially charged with anything, but a statement by the Ministry of Intelligence last Monday implicates the Wilson Center, where she works, in this fantastical plot, so to speak, to advance a velvet or what the Iranians call a "soft revolution" in Iran.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Changing the minds of the Iranian people?

SHAUL BAKHASH: Well, so to speak. But this is -- sorry -- yes, it is criminalizing scholarly activity. This is saying, holding conferences and inviting people to give talks somehow is nefarious activity.
Read entire article at NewsHour (PBS)

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