Below is a timeline of events leading to today:
— December 21, 2006, Haleh Esfandiari, director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and a dual Iranian-American national, traveled from Washington D.C. to Tehran, Iran to visit her 93-year old mother for one week.
— On December 30, 2006, on her way to the airport to catch a flight back to Washington, the taxi in which Dr. Esfandiari was riding was stopped by three masked, knife-wielding men. They threatened to kill her, and they took away all of her belongings, including her Iranian and American passports.
— On January 3, when applying for replacement Iranian travel documents at the passport office, Dr. Esfandiari was invited to an "interview" by a man from Iran's Ministry of Intelligence.
— Beginning on January 4, she was subjected to a series of interrogations that stretched out over the next six weeks, sometimes continuing for as many as four days a week, and sometimes stretching across seven and eight hours in a single day. Dr. Esfandiari went home every evening.
— The questioning focused almost entirely on the activities and programs of the Middle East Program at the Wilson Center. Dr. Esfandiari answered all questions fully; when she could not remember details of programs stretching back five and even eight years, the staff at the Wilson Center provided her all the information requested. As a public organization, all Wilson Center activities are on the public record.
— On Friday, January 15 in the third week of interrogations, Dr. Esfandiari was told the questioning was over. On January 18, the interrogator and three other men showed up at Dr. Esfandiari's mother's apartment.
— On February 14, the lengthy interrogations stopped.
— On February 17, Haleh received one threatening phone call, and then she did not hear anything from her interrogators for ten weeks.
— On February 20, Lee Hamilton, president and director of the Wilson Center, wrote to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad asking that Dr. Esfandiari be allowed to travel. However, President Ahmadinejad did not reply to the letter.
— At the end of April or early May, she was telephoned once again and invited to "cooperate."
— On Monday, May 7 she was summoned to the Ministry of Intelligence once again. When she arrived for her appointment on Tuesday morning, May 8th, she was put into a car and taken to Evin prison. She was incarcerated and was allowed only one phone call to her mother.
— On May 9 she called her mother asking her to bring her clean clothes and her medicine. Her mother delivered the small package at Evin Prison on May 10, but was not allowed to see her.
— On May 12, the hard-line daily "Kayhan" accused Dr. Esfandiari of working with the U.S. and Israeli governments and with involvement in efforts to topple Iran's Islamic regime.
— On May 15, Iranian judiciary spokesman Ali Reza Jamshidi said that Dr. Esfandiari was being investigated for crimes against national security and that her case was being handled by the Intelligence Ministry.
— On May 15, Haleh made a brief telephone call to her mother.
— On May 16, Haleh's family retained the legal services of Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi to represent her.
— On May 17, in an interview with Washington Post Staff Writer Robin Wright, Shirin Ebadi indicated that the Iranian government has rejected her request to represent Dr. Esfandiari. She also noted the court refused information on the legal charges against Dr. Esfandiari, and denied her legal team the ability to see Haleh.
— Since her incarceration on May 9, a period of two weeks, she has been allowed 10 or 11 very brief phone calls to her mother, usually in the late evening, simply to say she is OK. These phone calls last barely two minutes, sometimes less, and Haleh is clearly not allowed to say anything of substance during them.
Source: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars