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DIPLOMACY IN NEW YORK: DIVESTMENT

O.C. man freed from Iran prison

September 25, 2007|Tony Barboza | Times Staff Writer

Ali Shakeri, an Orange County peace activist who was imprisoned in Iran for more than four months, was released and is with family in Tehran, his son said Monday.

Kaveh Shakeri, 27, said his father called about noon Monday to report that he had been released from Evin Prison in Tehran and was resting with family members. He first called his wife, Zohreh, at home in Lake Forest, their son said.

Ali Shakeri, 59, a mortgage broker and a founding board member of the Center for Citizen Peacebuilding at UC Irvine, was one of four people with dual citizenship detained in Iran recently and was the last to be released.

His son had traveled to New York to visit Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was attending the opening of the U.N. General Assembly and spoke at Columbia University.

On Sunday, at a dinner to which Ahmadinejad invited Iranian American guests, Kaveh Shakeri handed him a letter asking for his father's release, he said.

"I said, 'Please read this letter and please release my father,' " he said in a telephone interview from New York.

Kaveh Shakeri said he didn't know what bearing his plea had on Iranian officials but was elated to receive the call from his father less than a day later.

"I haven't heard from him in well over four months," he said. "Normally, I speak to him on a daily or every-other-day basis, so we're hoping to actually catch up soon."

Ali Shakeri was arrested May 8 in the Tehran airport after traveling to Iran to visit his ailing mother, who died while he was there.

Shakeri's family toiled quietly for months to free him, hiring a lawyer in Tehran and sending letters to Iranian authorities. Iranian officials had been tight-lipped about Shakeri and had not specified what charges he faced or why he was being detained.

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tony.barboza@latimes.com

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