TEHRAN, Iran - Two Iranian-Americans accused of conspiring against the
government were shown on state-run television for a second time Thursday with
montages of separate quotes combined to form what could be interpreted as
It was the second episode of a
program on Haleh Esfandiari and Kian Tajbakhsh, who spoke in Farsi in an office
or home setting. The first installment, aired on Wednesday, had similar montages
of disparate quotes and supporters of the detainees and the US government have
called the program illegitimate and coerced.
An image grab taken from footage broadcast 16 July 2007 by
the Islamic Republic of Iran News Network shows US-Iranian Haleh
Esfandiari talking to a camera at an unidentified place and time in Iran.
"After five months of staying in Iran, I concluded that these people and I
... in the name of democracy ... were trying to create a network to lead to very
essential changes in the system of Iran," said Esfandiari, director of the
Middle East program at the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson International Center
"It means to make the system unstable," she said.
Esfandiari, 67, was detained in January. She has been held largely
incommunicado since May except for brief telephone conversations with her
mother, whom she was visiting before her detention.
The broadcast drew condemnation from the Soros Foundation's Open Society
Institute, which Tajbakhsh works for. The New York based group said it was
"deeply concerned over Iran's use of deliberately contrived television footage"
of the two.
"OSI is saddened by this abuse of their dignity, and disturbed by this
attempt to deceive the Iranian public and the world about their activities and
their current situation," the institute said.
Tajbakhsh, an urban planning consultant with the OSI who has been held since
May, said his organization had a "long-term aim ... to create a gap between the
government and nation ... to put pressure on the government to change."
Tajbakhsh, 45, said their aim was to bring a "model of the Western democracy"
to Iran after an eventual conflict. He added that Soros' "investments after the
collapse of the Soviet Union might have been targeting the world of Islam."
He said the foundation has turned toward countries such as Saudi Arabia,
Turkey and Pakistan.
Esfandiari said she had met with a representative of the Soros Foundation who
said "they were interested in supporting sessions of lectures on Iran" -
allegedly a scenario for creating a network of Iranian activists and scholars
and their foreign supporters.
"Relations between the US government and research institutes was integrated,"
said Esfandiari, in what was apparently meant to hint at a US role in
influencing Iranian political change.
It was not clear when the program was recorded. Much of Thursday's 36-minute
installment was about political changes in Ukraine, Georgia. In one segment,
former Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze said that "young Georgian
politicians, who swept him from power, were financially supported by the Soros
Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the head of Iran's parliamentary committee on national
security and foreign policy, said the "confessions" of the two detainees proved
they planned to repeat the revolutions of some Eastern European countries in
Iran with US financing.
"We hope that the Americans and intelligence departments ... will learn that
Iran has enough capabilities to detect any plot and undertake corresponding
reaction," Boroujerdi told state-run television.
Iran has been accused of forcing some detainees to incriminate themselves
publicly on television. British sailors detained for allegedly entering Iranian
waters were freed in April after appearing in videos in which they "admitted"
trespassing. Other people have continued to endure prolonged jail time even
after their purported confessions were broadcast on TV.
Esfandiari and Tajbakhsh have been accused of endangering Iran's national
security, and the government has said new evidence had pushed its judiciary to
further investigate their cases. Two other Iranian-Americans are also being held
on national security charges.
On Wednesday, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the United
States was "appalled by the fact that these innocent people were paraded on
Iranian state television."