When news broke that Iran had incarcerated Haleh Esfandiari in a notoriously brutal prison in northern Tehran on May 8, politicians, including the presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, spoke out for the Iranian-American scholar's release. So did a coalition of faculty members, with a letter to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
And just as academics began stepping up their public criticisms of the Iranian government's actions on Monday with an additional flurry of letters and petitions, reports surfaced that Esfandiari — director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, in Washington — had been charged with "seeking to topple the ruling Islamic establishment." Despite the escalations and some calls for an academic boycott, no serious plans for the latter seem to be in the works so far.
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