Office of the President, Lee C. Bollinger

Statement on Detainment of Iranian-American Scholars

New York, May 31, 2007 –President Lee. C. Bollinger of Columbia University issued a statement today regarding the detainment of Iranian-American scholars Kian Tajbakhsh, a graduate of Columbia University and Haleh Esfandiari, director of the Middle East Program, Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars.  According to news reports, the scholars have been imprisoned since May 11, 2007.   

“Columbia University is urgently concerned about the safety, well-being and human rights of two Iranian-American scholars who are under arrest in Iran.  Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh is an expert on urban planning who has worked for multilateral, international, and Iranian public organizations. Dr. Tajbakhsh earned his Ph.D. and Master of Philosophy from Columbia University, where he studied urban planning and sociology.  Dr. Haleh Esfandiari is director of the Middle East Program at the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars.  Both were reportedly detained and charged with ‘endangering national security through propaganda against the system and espionage for foreigners.’ These reports are deeply troubling to our university community, and we urge that these scholars be released on humanitarian grounds.”