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Iran Accuses Iranian-American Scholar of Spying

Iran has charged a detained Iranian-American academic with seeking to topple the ruling Islamic establishment. Haleh Esfandiari, 67, director of the Middle East program at the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, has been held at Tehran's notorious Evin Prison since early May.

As NPR's Michele Kelemen tells Robert Siegel, Esfandiari went to Iran in December to visit her 93-year-old mother. But at the end of her trip, she was prevented from leaving the country.

Before her imprisonment two weeks ago, Esfandiari was held under house arrest in Tehran for about five months. On Monday, Iranian television reported that she will be charged with trying to undermine the Islamic state.

Lee Hamilton, president of the Wilson Center, says Esfandiari is a scholar, not a spy. At a news conference Tuesday, he said, "There is of course not a shred, not a scintilla of truth to the allegations against her."

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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