Iran Court Jails Kian Tajbakhsh, Columbia Grad and Almost-Columbia Professor

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kian Reuters
reports that an Iranian court has sentenced Kian Tajbakhsh, a U.S.-Iranian scholar, to more than 12 years in prison due to alleged espionage and acts against national security.  Tajbakhsh was taken into custody in July after the disputed June election triggered mass chaos and civilian uprising in Iran.  As Reuters explains, “The verdict looked certain to anger the United States, which is seeking to engage the Islamic Republic in direct talks to resolve a long-running row over Tehran’s disputed nuclear ambitions.”

The scholarly community’s loss is also our loss, as Tajbakhsh intended to teach at Columbia this semester.  In September, PrezBo joined the U.S. Department of State in calling for his release.  PrezBo declared,  “We concur in urging his release from detention and express our heartfelt support for his family, friends, and colleagues who are anxious over his wellbeing.”

 Tajbakhsh graduated from Columbia in 1993 with a PhD in Urban Planning.  He taught at the New School from 1994 to 2001, and has long sought to bridge East and West in his scholarly work.  He has worked for many international organizations, such as the Social Science Research Council, the World Bank, the Open Society Institute and the Dutch Association of Municipalities, as well as for government bureaus within Iran.  He was previously imprisoned in 2007 on false charges of endangering national security, but was released after four months.


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  1. John Galt  

    Who the fuck is this guy?

  2. Paulino  

    oh don't pay too much attention he's just another guy being exploited to demonize iran and the muslim world

    • wait a second

      Since I've been busy, I let this comment slide without a response, thinking that surely someone here would have the temerity to say something in protest, despite the preponderance of stupidity on such matters in this school. But alas, that sadly hasn't happened, and so I feel compelled to at least say a few words. You say this guy is being exploited to "demonize Iran." Is it not crystal clear to you that it is the Iranians who arrested him? Are you so confident that they must have had sound reason-- are so predisposed to judge every circumstance in their favor-- have their previous actions warranted such blind trust that you are certain in the man's guilt and in the justification of his sentence, and so certain in fact that you view any criticism thereof as a deliberate misconstruction of the facts? Again, if I may repeat myself, is it not clear to you that it is the Iranian government that arrested him? I myself don't know the facts in this case but the very fact that you would characterize any critic of the arrest, and more generally any critic of the Iranian government as simply trying to "exploit" Iran and more generally the Muslim world-- that you would attribute a silent vendetta to every criticism and thus abjectly deny the truth of any and every complaint is just incredible. Is it not clear to you that the Iranian government tortured its own citizens in the wake of the protests against the reinstatement of its president for a second term, that it has routinely executed and ocassionally stoned its own citizens for transgressions of its "moral" code, that its president has routinely denied the holocaust and deemed its veracity a question on par with the mysteries at the forefront of theoretical physics (and did so in fact in the hallowed grounds of Lerner hall!), that he has kissed the face of any hate-mongering cleric or former KKK member (David Duke) willing to come to Iran to preach the same mantra, that he honored cartoonists who had published cartoons denigrating the near-decimation of European Jewry with a conference in Tehran, that the Ayatollah-led military has publicly launched tests of interballistic missiles to threaten its neighbors in recent months and weeks, and finally, that it has publicly sought nuclear-weapons technology and implicitly, the ability to protect its unfailingly "moral," "G-d"-fearing regime with the most destructive weapons known to man? Are these not all truths? And your answer to this, "Paulino," is that the "great-Satan" hating regime is being somehow demonized?

  3. questions  

    1) does U.S. Iranian mean he was American-Iranian, or a scholar on Iranian-US relations?

    2) he was previously imprisoned in what country? and how were the charges deemed false?

    3) if he was falsely imprisoned in iran, why in the world would he stay? was he not exiled?

    does no one else have these questions?

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