Haleh Esfandiari Heading Home to U.S.

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The Washington Post reports:

Washington scholar Haleh Esfandiari was allowed to leave Tehran early this morning, ending an eight-month saga of imprisonment and virtual house arrest that heightened tense relations between the United States and Iran.

Esfandiari flew to Austria, where she was to be met by her husband, Shaul Bakhash, a George Mason University historian. “I’m elated that Haleh has been freed to come back home,” Bakhash said in a telephone interview from Vienna before she arrived.

“After a long and difficult ordeal, I am elated to be on my way back to my home and my family. These last eight months, that included 105 days in solitary confinement in Evin Prison, have not been easy. But I wish to put this episode behind me and to look to the future, not to the past,” Esfandiari said in a statement released by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Esfandiari, who directs Middle East programs at the Wilson center, expressed deep gratitude to the center’s president, Lee Hamilton, whose letter to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, appears to have played a pivotal role, as well as to the many organizations and individuals around the world that appealed for her freedom.

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Three other American citizens–Kian Tajbakhsh, Ali Sharkeri, and Parnaz Azima–remain stuck in the country. Sharkeri and Tajbakhshare in solitary confinement in Evin Prison while Azima is free on $600,000 bail.

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