Calif. Man Returns Home After Being Jailed in Iran

By Robin Wright
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 10, 2007; 4:06 PM

After more than four months in an Iranian prison, California businessman Ali Shakeri arrived home in the United States late Tuesday. He is the fourth American Iranian to be freed from jail in recent weeks, and the third allowed to leave Iran.

In an interview, Shakeri said his passport was returned Sunday and he immediately left Iran after posting a bond. But he said he still expects to have to go back to Iran to face charges.

"They released me on bond to come to the U.S., and by court order, when they want me, I'll be there," he said in an interview. "This is not something which I will disobey. I gave up the property deed of my brother's place, which is worth about $110,000."

Shakeri was picked up March 8 at Tehran's international airport as he was about to fly out after visiting his ill mother. She died while he was in Tehran, and he stayed for the funeral and to settle family business.

Shakeri said he was not ill treated during his long ordeal in Evin Prison, where he was held in solitary confinement in the section for political prisoners. "I was not treated bad in Ward 209, and I appreciate the discipline in prison," he said.

The fourth American, New York-based Kian Tajbakhsh, is still in Iran, where his wife is expecting to give birth this month. He does not have permission to leave Iran, according to friends who have talked to him.

All four Americans were charged with unspecified "crimes against national security." Washington scholar Haleh Esfandiari and journalist Parnaz Azima were allowed to return to the United States last month. All had to put up deeds to family homes as bail.

But there is still no news of former FBI agent Robert A. Levinson, who disappeared during a visit to Kish Island in March. Iran has rebuffed repeated requests by the State Department for information on his whereabouts and condition. But the regime recently promised to give Levinson's wife a visa to allow her to visit Iran.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company