HRA Highlights Sixty-Nine Dual and Foreign Nationals Detained by Iran From 2003 to Present 

HRANA – HRA has compiled a list of sixty-nine dual and foreign nationals detained by Iran since 2003. The list illustrates a deeply flawed judiciary plagued with the ongoing use of arbitrary detention fueled by an extraordinary lack of due process. It is noteworthy that in recent years a number of these arrests have been made by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). It is overwhelmingly clear that Iran continues to use dual and foreign nationals as political bargaining chips, often charging individuals in connection with espionage and citing national security concerns—with an alarming lack of evidence. HRA has documented extensive evidence of unfair trials, often conducted in a language the accused does not understand, with the denial of legal counsel, disproportionate sentencing, prolonged solitary confinement, and interrogations marred with torture leading to forced and sometimes televised confessions. The list goes on. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has commented on Iran’s trend of detaining dual nationals confirming that a number of those detained were targeted based on their “nationality or social origin”. 

The detention of dual and foreign nationals is seemingly targeted and systematic and it must be widely condemned. Iran cannot be allowed to use human beings as players in its political chessboard. Despite the foreign ministries’ November 2021 guarantee vowing the safety of dual nationals traveling to Iran, the continued practice and failure to release those currently detained sends a starkly opposite message to Iranians that enjoy dual nationality. A message that it is not safe to return to Iran without a well-founded fear of detention. There is no secret that Iran views dual nationals in this way. The case of Nazanin Zarcari Radcliffe is an unfortunate example of just how serious Iran takes the game. They view Nazanin as ransom for a four-hundred million pound debt owed by the United Kingdom daring back to a 1979 arms deal. It has become clear that Nazanin’s freedom hinges on the payment of said funds. She is not alone. There must be sustained international pressure to release Nazanin and all dual and foreign nationals currently detained by Iran. It’s a dangerous game when politics become more important than the very lives politicians were elected to serve. 

In a letter written from prison, currently detained dual national, Siamak Namazi said Iran’s continued use of hostage diplomacy was like “sprinkl[ing] salt on the wound of distrust.” This is surely a shared sentiment in numerous diplomatic circles attempting to tackle the issue.  

The following list documents sixty-nine dual and foreign nationals detained by Iran from 2003 to the present day. A number of those detained were released prior to the completion of their sentence–illustrating the arbitrariness of the practice. Some were never fortunate enough to return home and ultimately faced execution at the hands of their abductors. While several have been released a number still await a strategic move on the chessboard that has, unfortunately, become their reality. American, British, and Canadian citizens account for the highest number of detentions among dual nationals–the highest number of detentions occurring in 2016. It is worth noting that the actual number of detentions may be higher than reported. Dual national detentions significantly outnumber that of foreign nationals reaffirming the widespread distrust in Iran’s commitment to the safety of dual nationals wishing to “return home”.

(*) denotes the individual remains imprisoned in Iran or otherwise has been denied the ability to return home.

1. Zahra “Ziba” Kazemi-Ahmadabadi

Date of Arrest: June 24, 2003
Date of Release: Killed by Iranian officials following her arrest
Nationality: Iranian-Canadian
Charges: Photographing restricted areas
Conviction: N/A

 


2. Stephane Lherbier

Date of Arrest: November 6, 2005
Date of Release: January 2007
Nationality: French
Charges: Unknown
Conviction:Unknown

 


3. Donald Klein

Date of Arrest:  November 6, 2005
Date of Release: January, 2007
Nationality: German
Charges: Unknown
Conviction: Unknown

 


4. Robert Alan Levinson

Date of Arrest: March 2007
Date of Release: Disappeared on March 9, 2007 on Kish Island, Iran
Nationality: American
Charges: Unknown
Conviction: Unknown

 


5. Haleh Esfandiari

Date of Arrest: May 8, 2007
Date of Release: August 21, 2007
Nationality: Iranian-American
Charges:  Acting against national security and acting to overthrow the regime
Conviction: Unknown

 


6. Hamid Ghasemi Shal

Date of Arrest: 2008
Date of Release: October 2013
Nationality: Iranian-Canadian
Charges: Espionage. In retrial, the charge was changed to assembly and collusion against national security
Conviction: Initially sentenced to death. Later, the verdict was reduced to 5 years imprisonment


7. Saeed Malekpour

Date of Arrest: October 2008
Date of Release: Released from prison before the end of his sentence
Nationality: Iranian-Resident of Canada
Charges: Cybercrime (Pornography)
Conviction: Life imprisonment

 


8. Hossein Derakhshan

Date of Arrest: November 1, 2008
Date of Release: November 19, 2015
Nationality: Iranian-Canadian
Charges: Collaboration with hostile countries, propaganda against the regime, advocating for anti-regime groups, blasphemy, setting up and directing websites with obscene content.
Conviction: 19 years and 6 months imprisonment, five year prohibition from membership and activity on social media


9. Roxana Saberi

Date of Arrest: January 31, 2009
Date of Release: May 11, 2009
Nationality: American
Charges: Espionage and gathering confidential and classified documents
Conviction: 2 years suspended imprisonment

 


10. Maziar Bahari

Date of Arrest: June 1, 2009
Date of Release:
October 13, 2009 
Nationality: 
Iranian-Canadian
Charges:
Assembly and collusion to act against national security, gathering and holding confidential and classified documents, propaganda against the regime, offensive statements against the Supreme Leader of Iran and the President, disturbing public order
Conviction:
13 years and six month imprisonment and 74 lashes


* 11. Fariba Adelkhah

Date of arrest: June 6, 2009
Date of release: Unknown
Citizenship: Iranian-French
Charges: Propaganda against the regime and collusion against national security
Sentence: 6 years and 6 months imprisonment

 


12. Clotilde Reiss

Date of Arrest: July 1, 2009
Date of Release: August 2009
Nationality: French
Charges: Espionage
Conviction: 5 years imprisonment, later changed to a fine when she left Iran on May 16, 2016

 


13. Kian Tajbakhsh

Date of Arrest: July 2009
Date of Release: March 13, 2010
Nationality: Iranian-American
Charges: Unknown
Conviction: 5 years imprisonment

 


14. Sarah Shourd

Date of Arrest: July 30, 2009
Date of Release: September 14, 2010
Nationality: American
Charges: Illegally entering the country and espionage
Conviction: Released on bail. She left Iran after her release.

 


15. Vahik Abramian

Date of Arrest: February 20, 2010
Date of Release: March 2011
Nationality: Iranian-Dutch
Charges: Preaching Christian beliefs
Conviction: One year in prison. He returned to the Netherlands after release.

 


16. Shane Bauer

Date of Arrest: September 14, 2010
Date of Release: December 27, 2011
Nationality: American
Charges: Illegally entering the country and espionage
Conviction: 8 years imprisonment

 


17. Josh Fattal

Date of Arrest: September 14, 2010
Date of Release: December 27, 2011
Nationality: American
Charges: Illegally entering the country and espionage
Conviction: 8 years imprisonment

 


18. Amir Mirza Hekmati

Date of Arrest: December 7, 2011
Date of Release: January 2016
Nationality: Iranian-American
Charges: Espionage
Conviction: Initially sentenced to death, later reduced to 10 years imprisonment. He was released through a prisoner swap with the U.S. Government


19. Masoud Karami

Date of Arrest: February 14, 2012
Date of Release: Unknown
Nationality: Iranian-Norwegian
Charges: Unknown
Conviction: Unknown

 


20. Saeed Abedini

Date of Arrest: September 2012
Date of Release: Mid-January 2016
Nationality: Iranian-American
Charges: Holding underground church services with the purpose of acting against national security
Conviction: 8 years in prison

 


21. Afshin Shafei

Date of Arrest: December 16, 2012
Date of Release: January 2013
Nationality: Iranian-Norwegian
Charges: Unknown
Conviction: Released on bail and left the country

 


22. Roya Saberi Nejad Nikbakht

Date of Arrest: September 28, 2013
Date of Release: Unknown
Nationality: Iranian-British
Charges: Blasphemy and offensive statements against the heads of three branches of government.
Conviction: 4 years imprisonment

 


23-30. Seven Unidentified Slovak Citizens

Date of Arrest: July 2013
Date of Release: September 2013
Nationality: Slovak
Charges: Espionage
Conviction: Unknown

 


31. Jason Rezaian 

Date of Arrest: July 22, 2014
Date of Release:
January 2016
Nationality:
Iranian-American
Charges:
Espionage and acting against national security
Conviction:
Released though a prisoner swap. In return, the U.S. government released three Iranian prisoners.


* 32. Hasan Rastegari Majd

Date of Arrest: October 27, 2014
Date of Release: Imprisoned in Urmia Prison
Nationality: Iranian-Turkish
Charges: In the first case, “propaganda against the regime through collaboration with an anti-regime group”. In the second case, “offensive statements and propaganda against the regime”. In the third case, “causing unrest in prison and clashing with prison guards”.
Conviction: 15 years imprisonment and revocation of Iranian citizenship for his first case. 2 years imprisonment for the second case and one year for the third.


33. Nosratollah (Farzad) Khosravi-Roodsari

Date of Arrest: 2014
Date of Release: January, 2016
Nationality: Iranian- American
Charges: Unknown
Conviction: Released through a prisoner swap with the U.S. Government.

 


34. Mostafa Azizi

Date of Arrest: February 1, 2015
Date of Release: April, 2016
Nationality: Iranian-Resident of Canada
Charges: Assembly and collusion against national security, propaganda against the regime, offensive statements against the Supreme Leader of Iran.
Conviction: 3 years and a fine


35. Nizar Zakka

Date of Arrest: 2015
Date of Release: June 11, 2019
Nationality: Lebanese citizen, US resident
Charges: Espionage and collaboration with hostile countries
Conviction: 10 years imprisonment and a fine of 4.2 million dollars


* 36. Siamak Namazi

Date of arrest: October 2015
Date of release:
N/A
Citizenship:
Iranian-American
Charges:
Collaborating with a hostile government (U.S.A.)
Sentence:
10 years imprisonment

 


37. Matthew Trevithick

Date of Arrest: December 8, 2015
Date of Release:
January 2016
Nationality:
American
Charges:
Espionage
Conviction:
Unknown

 


38. Sanya Bobnevich

Date of Arrest: December 13, 2015
Date of Release: January 2016
Nationality: Croatian-Swedish
Charges: Unknown
Conviction: Released on bail

 


39. Kamran Ghaderi

Date of arrest: December 2015
Date of release: N/A
Citizenship: Iranian-Austrian
Charges: Espionage
Sentence: 10 years imprisonment

 


40. Bagher Namazi

Date of Arrest: March 2016
Date of Release: Spring 2019. Released due to need for medical treatment.
Nationality: Iranian-American
Charges: Collaboration with a hostile country (U.S.A.)
Conviction: 10 years imprisonment

 


* 41. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

Date of Arrest: April, 2016
Date of Release: First case, March 2021. Second case, pending removal of travel ban restrictions.
Nationality: Iranian-British
Charges: First case, Collusion against the State. Second case, Propaganda against the regime.
Conviction: First case, 5 years imprisonment. Second case, 1-year imprisonment and 1-year travel ban


42. Ahmadreza Jalali

Date of Arrest: April 2016
Date of Release: N/A
Nationality: Iranian-Swedish
Charges: Espionage
Conviction: Executed

 


43. Homa Hoodfar

Date of Arrest: June 6, 2016
Date of Release: October 2016
Nationality: Iranian-Canadian
Charges: Unknown
Conviction: Unknown

 


44. Reza (Rabin) Shahini 

Date of Arrest: July 15, 2016
Date of Release: April 2017
Nationality: Iranian-American
Charges: Collaboration with Voice of America news channel (VOA) and appearance in their TV programs, propaganda against the regime in favor of anti-regime groups, membership in anti-regime groups such as the proponents of the re-establishing the monarchy in Iran, instigating people to disturb national security and offensive statements against former and current Supreme Leader of Iran.
Conviction: 18 years imprisonment, of which 9 years is enforceable. He was released on bail of 200 million tomans.


45. Afarin Neysari

Date of Arrest: July 20, 2016
Date of Release: Mid-July, 2018
Nationality: Iranian-American
Charges: Espionage
Conviction: 16 years imprisonment. Released on bail of 40 billion tomans

 


46. Karan Vafadari

Date of Arrest: July 20, 2016
Date of Release: Mid-July, 2018
Nationality: Iranian- American
Charges: Espionage
Conviction: 27 years imprisonment. Released on bail of 40 billion tomans

 


47. Xiyue Wang 

Date of Arrest: Summer 2016
Date of Release: November 2019
Nationality: Chinese-American
Charges: Espionage
Conviction: 10 years imprisonment. Released through a prisoner swap with the U.S. government in exchange for an Iranian Prisoner.

 


48. Abdolrasoul Dorri-Esfahani

Date of Arrest: August, 2016
Date of Release: Unknown
Nationality: Iranian-Canadian
Charges: Espionage and collaboration with the British Intelligence Service
Conviction: 5 years imprisonment

 


49. Anoosheh Ashoori

Date of Arrest: 2017
Date of Release: N/A
Nationality: Iranian-British
Charges: Spying for Israel and acquisition of illegitimate property
Conviction: 12 years imprisonment and fine of 33 thousand euros

 


* 50. Morad Tahbaz

Date of Arrest: January 24, 2018
Date of Release: Jailed in Evin Prison
Nationality: Iranian-American
Charges: Espionage
Conviction: 10 years imprisonment

 


51. Kavous Seyed-Emami

Date of Arrest: January 2018
Date of Release: Died in prison
Nationality: Iranian-Canadian
Charges: Espionage
Conviction: Unknown

 


52. Aras Amiri

Date of Arrest: March 2018
Date of Release: July 2021
Nationality: Iranian-British
Charges: Espionage
Conviction: 10 years imprisonment

 


53. Bahareh Amidi (Wife of Emad Sharghi)

Date of Arrest: April 4, 2018
Date of Release: 2018 (likely shortly after arrest)
Nationality: Iranian-American
Charges: Unknown
Conviction: Unknown

 


54. Abbas Edalat

Date of Arrest: April 15, 2018
Date of Release: January, 2019
Nationality: Iranian-British
Charges: Unknown
Conviction: Unknown

 


55. Michael White

Date of Arrest: July 1, 2018
Date of Release: June 4, 2020
Nationality: American
Charges: Offensive statements against the Supreme Leader of Iran and doxing.
Conviction: 10 years imprisonment

 


56. Kylie Moore Gilbert

Date of Arrest: Fall 2018
Date of Release: November 25, 2020
Nationality: Australian-British
Charges: Acting against national security
Conviction: 10 years imprisonment

 


57. Nelly Erin-Cambervelle

Date of Arrest: October 21, 2018
Date of Release:
February 24, 2019
Nationality:
French
Charges:
Allegedly signing an illegal mining contract
Conviction:
Unknown

 

 


58. Meimanat Hosseini-Chavoshi

Date of Arrest: November, 2018
Date of Release:
January, 2019
Nationality:
Iranian-Australian
Charges:
Collaboration with foreign countries, assembly and collusion against national security through conducting research on the decrease in birth rate
Conviction:
5 years imprisonment


59. Kamil Ahmadi

Date of Arrest: August 11, 2019
Date of Release: November 18, 2019
Nationality: Iranian-British
Charges: Acquisition of illegal wealth through collaboration with institutions hostile to the regime.
Conviction: 9 years imprisonment and a fine of 600,000 euros

 


60. Akbar Lakestani

Date of Arrest: September 28, 2019
Date of Release: November 13, 2019
Nationality: Iranian-American
Charges: Propaganda against the regime
Conviction: Released on bail. He left the country after his release.

 


61. Ruhollah Zam

Date of Arrest: October 2019
Date of Release: Executed
Nationality: Iranian-Resident of France
Charges: Spreading corruption on earth, launching and managing the Telegram channel “Amadnews” and “Sedaye Mardom” to disturb national security, spying for Israel and another country in the region, spying for the French intelligence service, collaborating with the U.S. government, assembly and collusion to act against national security, propaganda against the regime, membership in news outlet “Saham News” to with intent to disturb national security, instigating people, gathering classified information, spreading lies, Instigating military forces of the regime to revolt and disobey, blasphemy, and acquisition of illegal properties
Conviction: Death penalty

 


* 62. Yulia Yuzik

Date of Arrest: October 3, 2019
Date of Release:
October 10, 2019
Nationality:
Russian
Charges:
Espionage
Conviction:
Detained for one week. Left Iran immediately following her release.

 


* 63. Benjamin Briere

Date of Arrest: May 2020
Date of Release: N/A
Nationality: French
Charges: Espionage and propaganda against the regime
Conviction: 8 years imprisonment

 


* 64. Reza Eslami

Date of Arrest: May 10, 2020
Date of Release: Imprisoned
Nationality: Iranian-Canadian
Charges: Collaboration with hostile countries (U.S.A.) against the Islamic Republic of Iran through participation in educational courses about the Rule of Law in Czech Republic.
Conviction: 7 years imprisonment, prohibited from teaching and leaving the country.


* 65. Jamshid Sharmahd

Date of Arrest: August 2020
Date of Release: Unknown
Nationality: Iranian-German
Charges: Unknown
Conviction: Unknown

 


* 66. Nahid Taghavi

Date of Arrest: October 16, 2020
Date of Release: N/A
Nationality: Iranian-German
Charges: Participation in forming unlawful groups and “propaganda against the regime.
Conviction: 10 years and 8 months imprisonment

 


67. Emad Sharghi

Date of Arrest: Fall 2020
Date of Release: N/A
Nationality: Iranian-American
Charges: Espionage and gathering military intelligence
Conviction: 9 years imprisonment and a fine of 600,000 euros

 


68. Tavakoli

Date of Arrest: Unknown
Date of Release: Unknown
Nationality: Dual Nationalities
Charges: Espionage
Conviction: 8 years and 6 months imprisonment

 


* 69. Habib Chaab

Date of Arrest: November 2021
Date of Release:
Unknown
Nationality:
Iranian-Swedish
Charges:
Spreading corruption on earth, leading an anti-regime group, attemptign to sabotage public and private places and planning terrorism operations, destruction of public property
Conviction:
Unknown

_________________________

For further inquiries please contact Skylar Thompson, Senior Advocacy Coordinator Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRA) at [email protected]

French-Iranian Academic Fariba Adelkhah Arrested and Sent Back to Evin Prison

Kazem Gharib-Abadi, Deputy Minister for International Affairs of the Judiciary, announced that French-Iranian academic Fariba Adelkhah was sent back to Evin Prison from house arrest due a breach of electronic tag rules.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, quoting ISNA, Adelkhah was arrested by security forces at her home in Tehran on June 7, 2019. Her colleague Roland Marchal, who had travelled to Iran in order to visit Adelkhah, was also arrested upon arrival at the Tehran Airport. On March 20, 2020, in a prisoner swap agreement, Marshal was released from jail and returned Paris in exchange for Jalal Ruhollah-Nejad, who was jailed in France.

In May 2020, Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran sentenced Adelkhah to six and a half years in prison on the charge of “propaganda against the regime” and “assembly and collusion against national security”. The verdict was upheld on appeal. Five years of imprisonment is enforceable per Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code, which states that  from several verdicts, only the severest is enforceable.

She was transferred from Evin Prison to Ward 209, at the disposal of the Ministry of Intelligence, on September 17, 2020, for unknown reasons and despite being already convicted. On October 3, 2020, she was released from jail to spend the rest of her sentence on house arrest with an electronic tag.

Fariba Adelkhah is a French-Iranian anthropologist who graduated from University Marc Bloch in Strasbourg and the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences. She has been working for years as a researcher at the Centre for International Research of the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po). She has authored several books.