Arrested Iranian-American from San Diego Held Incommunicado and without Access to Lawyer
Charges and Whereabouts of Robin (Reza) Shahini Unknown
Iranian-American Robin (Reza) Shahini, the latest victim of a string of arrests and prolonged detainments of dual nationals who have travelled to Iran, was arrested by the Revolutionary Guards’ Intelligence Organization in the city of Gorgan, 255 miles east of Tehran, and has been held without access to a lawyer, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has learned.
“Around 10 p.m. on July 12 several individuals entered the home of Robin’s father in Gorgan. They presented a piece of paper that appeared to be from the prosecutor’s office. Then they searched the house and confiscated Robin’s personal belongings, including his mobile phone and computer,” said a source close to Shahini’s family.
“The agents only said that Robin is accused of ‘acting against national security’ but did not give any other explanation as to why he’s being hit with such a harsh accusation. They only said it was in the family’s best interest to stay quiet.”
To date no formal charges have been publicly issued against Shahini.
Several dual national Iranians have been arrested in Iran in the past two years, including Iranian-Canadian Homa Hoodfar, British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Iranian-American Siamak Namazi, all of whom are still being held in Iran. The growing number of arrests reflect hardliners’ efforts to prevent the engagement with the West that the Rouhani administration has sought to encourage.
“Robin had bought a return ticket to the U.S. for July 20. We hope we will get some news about his wellbeing. We have not heard anything about him and no one is giving us answers about where he is,” added the source. “Is he in Gorgan or Tehran? We hope he’s freed soon and the fate of another innocent person does not become a subject of dispute between Iran and the U.S.”
Some of Shahini’s social media postings included comments about the Iranian government’s human rights record, but the source told the Campaign that Shahini is not a political activist.
“Robin was not involved in political activities and we don’t know why he has been arrested based on such an accusation. He was only interested in the subject of peace and justice and he made comments on social media about human rights issues not just about Iran, but about other countries as well,” said the source.
Shahini, 47, who lives in San Diego, California, traveled to Iran about two months ago to visit his family. He was arrested at his parents’ house in Gorgan eight days before he was due to return to the United States on July 20.
Shahini immigrated to the U.S. from Iran in 2000 and received a bachelor’s degree in international security and conflict resolution from San Diego State University. Other than his latest trip, Shahini had not visited Iran in the past eight years, but had visited numerous times prior to 2008.
On July 22 State Department spokesman John Kirby said the U.S. was looking into reports on Shahini’s arrest. At a separate news conference that day, Secretary of State John Kerry refused to answer questions about the case.