Iran’s Justice Ministry’s announced Oct. 20 that Iranian-American scholar Kian Tajbakhsh has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for his role in the post-electoral protests. Tajbakhsh appeared at a mass trial of opposition leaders, accused of contacting foreign agents and endangering national security. During the trial, Tajbakhsh provided a vague confession which rights groups suspect was coerced, outlining his role in fomenting resistance to the June election in Iran.
According to Amnesty International, many of the defendants in the trial were not given adequate access to legal representation during their trial, and were intimidated into giving confessions that were the basis for their sentences. The few other figures thus far been convicted in the mass trial have received sentences of 5-6 years.
White House officials have repeatedly called on Tehran to release Tajbaksh, who was the only US citizen included in the mass trials that followed the post-election unrest. He also spent four months in prison in 2007 on charges of endangering national security.
The charges against Tajbaksh included being a consultant for George Soros‘ Open Society Institute, which the indictment identified as a CIA satellite institution devoted to fomenting “velvet revolutions” in Iran and elsewhere. Tajbaksh was also charged with belonging to an e-mail list, Gulf/2000, run by Gary Sick, a professor at Columbia University identified in the indictment as a CIA agent. (NIAC, Oct. 22; NYT, Oct. 21
The sentencing comes as the Obama administration is coming under attack from neocon critics for allegedly betraying the Iranian opposition. The BBC recently reported Obama’s State Department “has all but dismantled the Iran Democracy Fund”—federal funding to a classified list of dissident groups in Iran. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) observed, “It is disturbing that the State Department would cut off funding at precisely the moment when…needed most.'” (Jewish Policy Center, Oct. 21)
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