Iranian-American grad student faces difficulties returning to U.S.

Danielle Directo

Though Iranian officials announced that grad student Esha Momeni would be allowed to return to the United States after being released from a nearly a month in jail on bail, close friends disputed this report and said the student has not been permitted to leave Iran.

Croatian news site reported Iranian judiciary spokesman Alireza Jamshidi said at a news conference that Momeni ‘is freed on bail.’ I believe there are no obstacles if she wants to leave her country.’

Hassan Hussain, a close friend of Momeni and her family, said although the government released the student on bail, a travel restriction had also been placed on her and that this was ‘intentional misinformation.’

‘Of course, that’s not something we’re happy about,’ said Hussain.’ ‘(Esha is) disappointed because she was expected to be able to return… She’s just disappointed that she doesn’t know what’s going on.’

Hussain said what was previously thought to have been a court appearance last week turned out to be a meeting with Iranian officials instead, and that the government has still not released any information on a specific court date for Momeni.

‘They’ve been calling her in and talking to her but really not giving any information,’ he said, adding that the entire process has been ‘frustrating.’

Momeni’s father, Gholamreza Momeni, told the Los Angeles Times his daughter’s passports ‘have been seized so she cannot go out.’

Communications grad student Kara Lawton, a friend of Momeni who helped organize last week’s candlelight vigil to raise awareness of the student’s case, said at first, she was ‘excited’ when she found out Momeni would be allowed to return.

‘When I found out this morning’hellip; I felt relieved.’ It seemed like there was a resolution,’ Lawton said.

After speaking with other students and faculty, Lawton said ‘found it wasn’t true.’ It really disappointing and (now) there are all the same worries and concerns’ as before.

‘We felt our efforts (at bringing attention to Momeni’s situation) were working with the vigil,’ said John Daquioag, a grad student who also helped organize the event.’ ‘It’s so frustrating’hellip; they cut us off the legs again’ after giving out conflicting information to stall news on the case, he said.

Daquioag said knows when Momeni is eventually allowed to return, she may still face other repercussions and might not be able to go back to Iran.

‘As long as we get her back safe,’ said Daquioag.