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Iran Releases Scholar Invited to Teach at Penn Law

December 01, 2008
See earlier story.
PHILADELPHIA (Dec. 1, 2008) - The University of Pennsylvania Law School has learned that Mehdi Zakerian, an Iranian legal scholar who was scheduled to teach at Penn Law this year, has been released by the government in Iran.
"Our understanding is that Professor Zakerian was released from detention several weeks ago but that he still does not have his passport," said Michael A. Fitts, dean of Penn Law.  "Our invitation to him remains open and we are hopeful that we will be able to welcome Professor Zakerian to Philadelphia in the near future.  Our students and faculty would appreciate immensely the opportunity to interact with someone who is on the front lines of protecting human rights."

Even though released on bail, Zakerian apparently still faces criminal charges of espionage. Penn Law renewed its call urging the Iranian government to dismiss these unfounded charges and allow Zakerian to continue his important work in the fields of international law and international human rights.
Zakerian, an assistant professor of human rights at an independent university in Tehran, was detained by the Iranian government in mid-August while he awaited U.S. visa clearance to travel to Philadelphia as a visiting scholar at the University of Pennsylvania.  At that time, Penn Law was joined by the non-governmental organizations International League for Human Rights and Human Rights Watch in calling for Zakerian's release.
Zakerian is "one of the leading thinkers on human rights in the Middle East whose writings have helped us all better understand the relationships between human rights and Islam," said William Burke-White, a professor at Penn Law and an expert in international law.