Bijan Khajehpour released – an update
Iranian economist and business consultant Bijan Khajehpour was freed on bail late on Wednesday after three months in Evin prison, according to his wife. His arrest along with hundreds of intellectuals, journalists and student activists in the aftermath of a disputed presidential election in June sparked international protests.
(Bijan is pictured at centre in court on August 8)
A consultant to leading multinational companies working in Iran, Bijan was reunited with his wife and daughters after they gave a substantial bond to the Iranian authorities. It is not clear whether his case is closed. He was arrested on his return to Iran on June 30 from a speaking tour in Vienna and London, although he was out of the country at the time of the demonstrations against the alleged rigging of the presidential election.
The authorities have never announced the charges against Bijan. He appeared in court among the defendants in the second mass trial of people arrested during the protests, including French researcher Clotilde Reiss and Iranians working for the French and British embassies.
The Iranian authorities often demand the deeds to a defendant’s house or a large cash surety in return for provisional release. This leaves a sword of Damocles hanging over the defendant until the sentence is eventually issued.
Like many gifted Iranians, Bijan studied abroad in Germany, Britain and France. But he chose to return to Iran in 1992 and set up a business to promote investment in his homeland by international companies and Iranian exiles, and the encourage young Iranians to learn about business and economics. He has been an articulate and passionate ambassador for doing business in Iran despite the red tape and political risks.
It is a bitter irony that he fell victim to those political risks himself.