U.S. Issues new travel warning for Iran

The U.S. State Department issued a new travel warning for Iran last week. While the changes were slight, they included additional warnings about arrests and detentions, with the latter possibly  referring to the remaining two of the trio of imprisoned American hikers.

A previous version of the travel warning issued on March 23, 2010, and cached online here, includes this language:

Iranian authorities also have detained or imprisoned Iranian-American citizens on various charges, including espionage and posing a threat to national security.

The newest version of the travel warning, released on October 8, now includes “academics” in the category of those who may be denied the ability to leave the country and changes the reference to those subject to detention or imprisonment from  “Iranian-American citizens” to simply “U.S. citizens.”

The new warning also adds the word “unjustly” before “detained and arrested.” This is perhaps a direct reference to the case of the remaining hikers, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal. Both are still imprisoned in Iran on espionage charges, while the third member of their hiking party, Sarah Shourd, was released last month.

The changed sentence reads (with my emphasis):

Iranian authorities also have unjustly detained or imprisoned U.S. citizens on various charges, including espionage and posing a threat to national security.

President Barack Obama praised Shourd’s release after more than a year in detention, and has called on Iran to release Bauer and Fattal since they “have committed no crime.”

The new warning was also amended to say that U.S. citizens — not just dual nationals — are sometimes denied access to the U.S. Interest Section in Tehran. While the U.S. has no diplomatic relations with Iran, and therefore no embassy or consulate, Washington does maintain an Interests Section in the Swiss Embassy.

Thus, the additions of the word “unjustly” and that U.S. citizens are being denied access in the latest travel warning may well reflect the Obama administration’s position on the Iran’s legal system.

Also of note is the removal of the paragraph about dangers of the “large-scale demonstrations with sometimes violent outbreaks” that occurred for months after the disputed Iranian presidential election of June 2009. The Green opposition movement has been publicly subdued by a government crackdown in the wake of widespread protests against the election results, so such demonstrations no longer occur.

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Ali Gharib

Ali Gharib is a New York-based journalist on U.S. foreign policy with a focus on the Middle East and Central Asia. His work has appeared at Inter Press Service, where he was the Deputy Washington Bureau Chief; the Buffalo Beast; Huffington Post; Mondoweiss; Right Web; and Alternet. He holds a Master's degree in Philosophy and Public Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science. A proud Iranian-American and fluent Farsi speaker, Ali was born in California and raised in D.C.

One Comment

  1. What where hikers doing in or on the border of Iran there story just doesn’t add up as Iraq is a war zone and any body with common sense wouldn’t dare venture any where there.Also American forces are stationed in Iraq so they are either CIA or MOSSAD agents without a doubt in my mind.Hostile forces are also in the area who are anti Iran so what’s all the fuss about as the bail money is a mystery that I am trying to solve but the deeper you dig in to this the more you get sucked in this game of minds and hearts as both America and Israel are deeply involved in disabling Iran but Iran is not Iraq so brace your self s as a conflict is just over the horizon as the next president of America will come on the bases of attacking Iran.More chaos and blood shed in the middle east in the near future

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