the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Statement by the Press Secretary on the sentencing of Kian Tajbakhsh

We express our deepest regret and strong objection that the Islamic Republic of Iran has sentenced Iranian-American scholar Kian Tajbakhsh to 15 years in prison.  Mr. Tajbakhsh poses no threat to Iran or its national security.  As an independent and internationally-respected scholar, Mr. Tajbakhsh has dedicated his life to fostering greater understanding between Iran and the international community.  He embodies what is possible between our two countries.  Our thoughts and prayers are with Kian’s family and loved ones on this difficult day.

Further, we are deeply concerned that Mr. Tajbakhsh may have been forced to stand trial in the revolutionary court without the benefit of his own legal counsel.  The right to due process is universal and must be respected.  The right to a fair and public hearing is embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the right to legal representation is also guaranteed in Iran’s own constitution, as well as in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a party.  We urge Iran to release Mr. Tajbakhsh as soon as possible.