Speaking Up

The Iranian government should immediately release the UC Berkeley graduates who were detained on July 31.

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Correction Appended

The Iranian government hardly has a history of respecting human rights, which gives all the more reason to demand the immediate release of the three UC Berkeley graduates-turned-journalists who were arrested in Iran on July 31. Letting the three go is in the best interests of everyone involved-for the journalists, for the Iranian government and for US-Iran relations that will only sour more if the three are detained further.

Accusations that the trio are working with the CIA to subvert Iran's government have become tired and jaded, losing credibility with each new allegation. Friends of the three have called the assertions absurd, casting even more doubt on the already-fractured believability of the claims. Two years ago, Haleh Esfandiari, director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington D.C., faced a similar situation when she was detained in Iran for nearly five months after having her passport stolen while visiting her mother. She was videotaped and broadcast in Iran making an alleged confession to supporting another Iranian revolution-a broadcast that the Wilson Center dismissed as "scripted and contrived." That must not happen again.

Citizens can play a part in helping the three current detainees. Their best hope is for people to urge their representatives, government officials and the university administration to demand that Iran's officials let them go without further incident. Their case must not leave the public spotlight-as UCLA Iranian Studies Director Hossein Ziai said, "If we forget about them, they may rot forever." Their case must be more than merely the week's news, soon to be replaced by another story in the public mind. It will remain a prevalent issue as long as the public keeps it that way.

As Iranian officials said, the trio's case is "on its natural course." We hope the natural course will be their immediate release, which must be insisted on by citizens. Therein lies the best hope for the three journalists-or anyone who has been unjustly detained-to be released as quickly as possible.

Correction: Friday, August 26, 2011
The Aug. 10, 2009 editorial "Speaking Up" incorrectly identified all three UC Berkeley alumni and hikers detained in Iran as UC Berkeley graduates-turned-journalists. In fact, only Shane Bauer was a journalist.

The Daily Californian regrets the error.





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