Founding board member of UC Irvine’s Center for Citizen Peacebuilding Ali Shakeri has finally been freed from Evin Prison in Tehran, Iran. Held in detention for 138 days, Shakeri was released last Monday on bail of 1 million rials, or about US $110,000. He was said to be staying with family members in Tehran until the judge in his case allowed him to leave the country.
Upon release, Shakeri, 59, called his wife, Zohreh, at their Lake Forest home. He then called his son Kaveh.
‘He just said that he has been released,’ Kaveh, a UCI alumnus, told the Orange County Register. ‘He was excited. … He told me ‘I love you’ and I told him I loved him as well.’
Prompted by an Aug. 27 phone call in which Shakeri sounded weak, tired and depressed, Kaveh decided to take action for the release of his father. Only that weekend, he had traveled to New York to visit Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was attending the opening of the U.N. General Assembly. At a dinner on Sunday, Kaveh handed Ahmadinejad a letter requesting his father’s release from prison. Less than a day later, Shakeri was freed.
Kaveh Shakeri said he was unsure whether his plea had prompted his father’s release, but his father’s call allowed him and his family to finally breathe a sigh of relief.
‘I haven’t heard from him in well over four months,’ he said. ‘Normally, I speak to him on a daily or every-other-day basis, so we’re hoping to actually catch up soon.’
Shakeri had traveled to Iran on March 14 to visit his ailing mother, who passed away during his visit. While waiting for his flight back to the United States on May 8, Shakeri was arrested at the airport and held on security-related charges. He and three other Iranian-Americans were sent to Evin Prison, two of whom were accused of trying to undermine national security by encouraging a ‘velvet revolution.’ All but Shakeri were freed in August and earlier this month.
The reason for Shakeri’s imprisonment, however, is still unclear. His release also occurred without explanation. But his family, who for months worked quietly to free Shakeri by creating the Free Ali Shakeri Campaign, is not complaining.
‘I really don’t care what the cause for my dad’s release was,’ Kaveh told the Register. ‘My dad is free.’
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