City Council Approves Letter Urging Iran to Release Detained Alumni

Earlier Version of Berkeley City Council Letter »

Click here to read the earlier version of the Berkeley City Council's letter to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Related Articles »

  • Printer Friendly Printer Friendly
  • Comments Comments (0)

At its meeting Tuesday, the Berkeley City Council unanimously approved a letter to be sent to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad urging the Iranian government to expedite the release of three UC Berkeley alumni charged with espionage.

The letter asks Ahmadinejad to "achieve maximum leniency" for Shane Bauer, Joshua Fattal and Sarah Shourd, who have been held in Iran for more than six months.

A statement in an earlier version of the letter stating that Iran had the right to detain the alumni was later removed by the letter's author, Councilmember Kriss Worthington.

"We do not agree with the decision to further detain these three young Americans, though it is well within the rights of Iran to do so," the earlier version said.

But Worthington said he still believes Iran had the right to initially detain the alumni.

"What we meant was that it was well within their rights to detain them in the beginning for questioning," Worthington said. "But part of the problem we have now is that they've been detained for months and prevented from calling their parents."

The council unanimously approved the letter after brief discussion.

Councilmember Gordon Wozniak said at the meeting that Berkeley could be well-suited to make the appeal for the alumni's release.

"There are quite a few members of the government in Iran who were educated in Berkeley," he said. "So I think it's important that the letter come from the city."

The three Bay Area residents were arrested after allegedly crossing the Iran-Iraq border July 31 and were charged with espionage Nov. 8.

"It has been reported that the trio had no intention of entering Iran," the letter reads. "As such, we can only hope that the trio not be detained any longer for the alleged mistake of crossing over the Iran-Iraq border."

Although council letters to foreign countries are normally written in English no matter the receiving country's language, Worthington said this letter's significance and possible impacts warranted translation into Farsi, a Persian language widely spoken in Iran.

But the process of translating the letter was slow, he added.

"We could have had it a month ago if we hadn't done it this way," Worthington said. "But sending it in their own language would be a sign of respect."

Worthington also said he hopes the council's intentions and history of goodwill towards the Middle East will further aid the alumni's release.

"Coming from a peace-loving city that has spoken out against attacking their city and region might get them to actually read it," he added.

The approval of the letter comes after further information regarding the conditions of the alumni was released by two Belgian bicycle tourists who were held for three months at the same prison and released in December, according to The Oakland Tribune.

The tourists, Van den Bosch and Vincent Boon Falleur, report that the alumni were being held in solitary confinement.


Sarah Springfield covers city council. Contact her at [email protected]

Comments (0) »

Comment Policy
The Daily Cal encourages readers to voice their opinions respectfully in regards to both the readers and writers of The Daily Californian. Comments are not pre-moderated, but may be removed if deemed to be in violation of this policy. Comments should remain on topic, concerning the article or blog post to which they are connected. Brevity is encouraged. Posting under a pseudonym is discouraged, but permitted. Click here to read the full comment policy.
White space
Left Arrow
City Council
Image Local Legend a Lifelong Social Advocate
Bundled up in a fleece snowman blanket with "The Oprah Winfrey Show" on the...Read More»
City Council
Image People's Park, Telegraph Avenue Key Issues in Dist...
With less than a week until this year's Berkeley Ci...Read More»
City Council
Image District 7 Candidates Talk Campaign Funding
As the three-way race for the Berkeley City Council District 7 seat spee...Read More»
City Council
Image Candidates Vie for City Council Seats
With two weeks left in the nomination period for the Berkeley City Council ...Read More»
Right Arrow

Job Postings

White Space