TEHRAN (AFP) – Detained US-Iranian scholar Kian Tajbakhsh told journalists visiting him at Evin prison in Tehran on Tuesday that he expects to be released “soon”.
“I do expect to be released soon (but) exactly when I do not know,” he told visiting journalists.
“The conditions in prison are fine, I’m in a solitary cell, I have a television and a table. I have a private bathroom,” he said, adding: “I have weekly visits from my wife.”
Tajbakhsh, an urban planner, has been held in Evin since May for alleged links to a US drive to topple the Islamic regime. The academic worked for the Open Society Institute of US billionaire George Soros.
Asked by reporters talking to him in the prison’s garden about the accusations, he replied: “Of course, I’ve been told why I am being held but I prefer not to discuss issues with the case right now.
“There have been no formal charges with the case right now, my case is under investigation,” he added, replying to questions in both Farsi and English.
Asked about his appearance on Iranian state television, he said: “No I would not see it as a confession, until I’ve been charged I cannot answer any charges.”
Tajbakhsh along with fellow US-Iranian scholar Haleh Esfandiari in July gave “interviews” to Iranian television, in a programme entitled “In the Name of Democracy”, apparently implicating themselves in alleged US efforts to topple Iran’s clerical authorities.
Before being taken away by two plainclothes men, he told a number of journalists that he will give a press conference in the future.
Tajbakhsh is an academic expert in urban planning who has taught in the United States and Iran. He has also worked for the World Bank.
Like Esfandiari, he has been accused of harming national security by harbouring links to the US drive for a “soft revolution” in Iran.
He also appeared on television saying the Soros Open Society Institute wanted “to create a gap between the government and the people” in Iran.
According to the Open Society Institute, he served as a “consultant” for the past three years, focusing on public health issues.
Tajbakhsh was based in Iran at the time of his arrest. He was taken from his home in Tehran on May 11, 2007, according to relatives.