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Last Updated: Monday, 3 September 2007, 13:29 GMT 14:29 UK
Released US academic leaves Iran
An image grab of Haleh Esfandiari taken from Iranian TV footage
Haleh Esfandiari is one of the leading US authorities on Iran
A leading Iranian-American academic who was jailed for three months in Iran on spying charges has left the country.

Haleh Esfandiari's husband, Shaul Bakhash, told the Fars news agency that she had flown to Austria, and would later return to the US.

Ms Esfandiari works for a research institute in Washington.

Three other Iranian-Americans are being detained in Iran - academics Ali Shakeri and Kian Tajbakhsh, and journalist Parnaz Azima.

The detentions came amid ongoing tension between the US and Iran.

Analysts say the Iranian authorities are highly suspicious of attempts by the Bush administration to promote democratic change in Iran.

Ms Esfandiari, 67, heads the Middle East programme at the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

She was released on 21 August for a bail of 3bn rial ($320,000; 160,000).

In December, while on her way to the airport to return to the US, Ms Esfandiari's taxi was stopped by three men who stole her belongings, including her Iranian and US passports.

When she went to replace her passport, she was sent to the intelligence ministry, where she was repeatedly questioned about her work.

In May, after being repeatedly prevented from leaving Iran, she was taken to the Evin Prison in the Iranian capital, Tehran.


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