Shirin Ebadi was awarded the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize and is Haleh Esfandiari's lawyer. Muhammad Sahimi is professor of chemical and petroleum engineering at the University of Southern California.
Ebadi, writing in Tribune Media Services - and reproduced in the IHT - questions where George Bush is heading in relation to Iran:
"The confrontation between Iran and the West has developed a new dimension over the detention of several Iranian scholars, journalists and political activists who have been living in the West for years and have recently traveled to their homeland.
Parnaz Azima, a reporter for the U.S.-funded Radio Farda, which broadcasts Persian programs into Iran, has been prohibited from leaving Iran since her passport was seized in January. Mehrnoushe Solouki, an Iranian-French journalist, has not been able to leave since February. Haleh Esfandiari, the director of the Middle East Program at the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, has been jailed since May 7. Kian Tajbakhsh, a senior research fellow at The New School in New York was also detained in May.
What is the root cause of these events? Part of it is the deep unpopularity of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Internal opposition to his government is becoming increasingly louder as Iranians are recognizing the danger in his foreign policy and his failure to improve the economy."