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.