Iranian government confirms arrest of CSUN grad student

Danielle Directo

The Iranian government has confirmed the arrest of 28-year-old Esha Momeni, a grad student who was arrested on Oct. 15 in the Middle Eastern country while she was working on her thesis project.

Hassan Ghashgaee, spokesperson for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, told BBC Persian that the ‘relevant departments are processing this arrest, however the final report has not been sent out to the Foreign Ministry yet.’

Harry Hellenbrand, provost and vice president of Student Affairs, said university officials still have not received any new information on Momeni’s arrest.

Momeni had been working on a documentary focusing on the women’s rights movement in Iran. She had been recording interviews of volunteers with the One Million Signatures campaign, an organization that is working to change Iran’s constitution to state that men and women are equal.

Gholam Reza Momeni, the student’s father, told Iranian news organization Rooz that the government is ‘not responsive’ and that they would notify the family of any developments in his daughter’s case after the investigation is over. ‘My daughter has not committed a crime,’ he said.

Momeni’s father said the family was hesitant to contact the media because he felt Iranian officials would ‘realize their mistake.’ After it was apparent that his daughter was not going to be released, he told the online news site the family decided to speak to the press.

‘One of the reasons that Esha is interested in the topic of women is her personal experience in life. My daughter suffered for years because of these laws, which do not give the women the right to divorce,’ he said in a statement on Change for Equality’s website. ‘All of us have seen women who live with unwell and unqualified men, who are supported by unfair laws.’

In addition to human rights organizations Amnesty International and World Organization Against Torture, the American Association of University Professors sent a letter to Iranian officials calling for Momeni’s release.

Momeni was arrested over two weeks ago by undercover police for allegedly passing another vehicle on the highway illegally. She was taken to her home, where tapes containing interviews for her project were confiscated.